Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hab Touch - Khmer heritage in his hands

One of the key personnel at Cambodia's National Museum is the deputy director, Hab Touch, who's responsible for co-ordinating the international exhibitions of Khmer art that have appeared in Korea, Japan and from December this year, in Bonn, Germany. With a master's degree in conservation and restoration from the Polish University of Torun, Touch (pictured) has recently contributed an article on Khmer sculpture held abroad and the efforts being made to relocate important items of Khmer art in the latest edition of the fine arts magazine, Orientations. The folks at Orientations have sent me a copy of their latest issue and its a superbly produced glossy magazine that devotes thirty pages to articles on the Angkor heritage, furnished with a selection of excellent photographs [I''ll comment more on the magazine in another blog post].

Under Hab Touch's leadership, the National Museum is currently updating its collection records, as well as those of its provincial collections. Within the museum past collection catalogues are being digitally archived and the objects in storage and on display checked against them. This is the first time a comprehensive inventory has been made referencing old catalogues since the museum reopened in 1979 and will clarify the condition of the collection and what has gone missing during the Khmer Rouge period. The Collection Inventory Project is being funded through the generosity of Shelby White through the Leon Levy Foundation. An inventory of provincial museum and cultural office collections, funded by Friends of Khmer Culture, is also being undertaken by a team from the National Museum. In fact, Touch presented a paper to a conference on Angkor at The University of Sydney in July on the provincial museum project. Improved record keeping is considered a practical measure to safeguard future losses of Cambodian art to the black market. Today the National Museum holds around 15,000 objects, the majority of which are in storage, and the collection is growing every year as more pieces are discovered, donated or returned to the Museum.

Read more about the forthcoming exhibition of Khmer art in Germany here.

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