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Master Bronze Works on Display in Washington

On the metro platform, in Washington DC, a billboard highlights the “Gods of Angkor” exhibit.

Thirty-six master bronze works from Cambodia are being exhibited now at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, part of a collection of 7,000 bronzes from the National Museum.

Curators of the exhibit say they hope “Gods of Angkor” will raise international awareness of the richness of Cambodia’s artwork, and possibly convince more tourists to visit the country.

The bronze works are from prehistory—somewhere between 300 BC and 400 BC—and from the Angkorian period—from about the 9th to 13th centuries AD.

“Despite it’s title, ‘Gods of Angkor,’ even before Angkorian time we were advanced in bronze work,” Chea Socheat, deputy chief of the conservation office at Cambodia’s National Museum, told VOA Khmer Wednesday.

The exhibit is meant to celebrate “the accomplishments of the Khmer bronze casters” as well as the conservation work of the National Museum, Julian Raby, director of the Freer and Sackler galleries, told reporters.

“I am happy that Cambodian culture is being shown here, and the benefit from this will be more tourists coming to Cambodia,” Chea Socheat said.

The bronzes represent Buddhism and Brahmanism and are set amid three linked galleries. They include an urn, bell, a naga-protected Buddha, Ganesh, Shiva, and other ritual objects.

Some are on display for the first time, such as a group of seven bronzes that were only unearthed in 2006.

The exhibit will be open to the public from May 15 to Jan. 23, 2011, before it moves to the J. Paul Getty Gallery in Los Angeles in February 2011.