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U.S. Announces $400k Funding for Temple, Genocide Museum Preservation


Tourists flock to take pictures as the sun set on Phnom Bakheng temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, March 21, 2015. (Nov Povleakhena/VOA Khmer)

The conservation project aimed to stabilize the temple structure and waterproof the building, as well as conduct site management and training activities.

The United States has announced it will spend more than $400,000 to conserve the Phnom Bakheng temple and to provide a grant to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh.

The State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center awarded $350,000 from its Ambassadors Fund to help preserve the 10th-century temple at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province.

Phnom Bakheng is the oldest temple in the world-famous complex, which is home to Angkor Wat. Its preservation began in 2004 and so far the United States has spent $3.2 million on the project.

Ly Vanna of the Apsara Authority, the body that manages the park, welcomed the additional funding. “What is important is that we can continue our work to preserve the temple, and at the same time, workers here continue to receive training from professionals.”

The conservation project aimed to stabilize the temple structure and waterproof the building, as well as conduct site management and training activities. The next phase will include restoration of the eastern half of the temple pyramid.

U.S. Ambassador William Heidt, and Chuch Phoeurn of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Ars, observe the remaining clothings of Toul Sleng victims, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, December 11, 2017. (Tum Malis/VOA Khmer)
U.S. Ambassador William Heidt, and Chuch Phoeurn of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Ars, observe the remaining clothings of Toul Sleng victims, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, December 11, 2017. (Tum Malis/VOA Khmer)

Lisa Ackerman, CEO of the World Monuments Fund, which controls the grants, said: “I hope with this new grant we will continue not only the work here but to have this project really be an ambassador for international collaboration in cultural heritage.”

Martin Perschler, project director of the Ambassador Fund, said: “The project symbolizes our long-term commitment to preserving Cambodia's culture and heritage, together with the Cambodian authorities. We intend to continue this cooperation and partnership in the years to come in order to show the American people's respect for Cambodian culture and history.”

On Monday, the Ambassadors Fund also announced a $55,000 grant to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. The project will focus on preserving the victims’ clothing.

William Heidt, the US ambassador to Cambodia, said that the clothing tells the personal, heartbreaking stories of the victims of the Khmer Rouge.

“The conservation work will carefully preserve the textiles without removing this historical evidence,” he said. “Each piece carries its own story, and we recognize how important it is to preserve this story for future generations.”

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