Newly opened in 2021, the Provincial Museum Battambang is a real asset to the city. In the immediate vicinity of the old museum (to be seen in the picture on the right), the new museum building was erected (to be seen in the picture on the left).
Visitors enter the large hall via a bright anteroom, a kind of vestibule. Even the first glance into the hall gives the impression of an outstanding presentation. Art lovers can breathe a sigh of relief; almost all statues are free and can be viewed from all sides. In the side rooms, too, hardly anything is left to be desired in terms of the arrangement and lighting of the objects. Almost all exhibits are labeled. Best has been done for this museum. The change from the old to the new museum can only be assessed as a successful project. Battambang is justifiably proud of the museum. Unfortunately, there is no advertising for this facility. Not the humblest flyer is within reach. A catalog is out of the question. Attaching a museum shop to the house was probably never considered. There is a lot of catching up to do here, at least according to the European understanding.
One of the showpieces of the collection is the extremely beautiful and truly unique Vishnu lintel in the Prei Khmeng style (7th century) from the Prasat Bavel, which is impressively striking in the entrance hall. No comparable lintel from the Prei Khmeng period can be seen in Cambodia's museums, and international (Western) museums have not exhibited anything remotely similar to this point. In short, visitors are fortunate to be able to admire a fine example of early Khmer sculpture.
The series of images shows the following deities from left to right:
Prei Khmeng style Vishnu statue (7th-8th c.) Origin: Baset Temple
Double-sided stele (Brahmanic Borne) in the Baphuon style (11th c.) Provenance: unknown
Front: male deity
Baphuon-style male deity (11th c.) Origin: unknown
The presentation of outstanding exhibits should be limited to the Vishnu lintel and the statues of the gods. Five images provide representative information on the consistently high level of the overall collection in the Battambang Museum.
A visit to the new museum in Battambang is highly recommended. Far and wide there is no comparable collection of high-quality Khmer art. Other provincial museums in Cambodia are somewhat smaller and do not yet have the contemporary exhibition standard. Entrance fees are generously waived, donations are expected.
Note: Photography is permitted without restrictions
Photos and text: Günter Schönlein