Explore Cambodia’s Sacred City of Angkor at the Asian Civilisations Museum

Rubbing Detail of the “Royal Procession” bas relief at Angkor Wat. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet. Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet
Rubbing Detail of the “Royal Procession” bas relief at Angkor Wat. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

Discover the ancient city of Angkor at the Asian Civilisations Museum from 8 April to 22 July 2018.

With more than 140 sculptures, watercolours, drawings and historic artefacts on display, the exhibition Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet will provide visitors a closer look at the Khmer civilisation and the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site.

Explorers and Explorations

The first section of Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City at Asian Civilisations Museum will take visitors back to the 1800s when Angkor first gained prominence on the world stage.

Members of the 1866 Mekong Exploration Commission at Angkor Wat. From left to right: Ernest Doudard de Lagrée (1823–1868), Louis-Marie de Carné (1844–1871), Clovis Thorel (1833–1911), Lucien Joubert (1832–1893), Louis Delaporte (1842–1925), Francis Garnier (1839–1873). Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

It was 1866 when members of the French Mekong Exploration Commission paid a visit to the temples of Angkor. A historical print on display shows the members of the Commision on the steps of Angkor Wat.

1866 photograph of Angkor Wat by Émile Gsell
1866 photograph of Angkor Wat by Émile Gsell. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

Émile Gsell, the French photographer who took the print, helped capture the state and condition of Angkor in the 1860s. His photographs are amongst the earliest ever taken of Angkor and are on display at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

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A member of the Mekong Exploration Commission, young naval officer Louis Delaporte, was particularly enraptured by Angkor. With his talent in art, he produced sketches and drawings that helped to popularised Angkor in the West. He subsequently went on to promote and evangelise the importance of Khmer art and culture.

Phimeanakas. Palace of the Khmer kings in the centre of Angkor Thom by Louis Delaporte
Phimeanakas. Palace of the Khmer kings in the centre of Angkor Thom by Louis Delaporte. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

Today, his watercolour paintings, and those of fellow artists such as Lucien Fournereau, provide a fascinating historical record of Angkor in the late 1800s.

These historic photographs and paintings, along with other artefacts such as architectural drawings and rubbings by early French explorers, make up the first section of Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City at Asian Civilisations Museum.

Khmer Art and Artistry

Figure of Devata from the temple complex of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, north of Angkor.
Figure of Devata from the temple complex of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, north of Angkor. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

On display at the second section of the exhibition are more than 50 sculptures from the Guimet Museum that chronical the development of Khmer art.

Figure of Vishnu from the beginning of the Angkor period, first half of the 9th century.
Figure of Vishnu from the beginning of the Angkor period, first half of the 9th century. Image courtesy of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

These sculptures not only showcase the stone-working skills of Khmer craftsmen but also illuminate the role of Hinduism and Buddhism in the city of Angkor.

Angkor at the Asian Civilisations Museum

Visitors to Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City at Asian Civilisations Museum can also look forward to programmes such as curator tours and a weekend of activities inspired by the exhibition, Angkor Encore. Children can pick up an activity booklet at the exhibition to learn more about Angkor.

The Guimet Museum’s president, Ms Sophie Makariou, said, “The Guimet Museum is a custodian of one of the largest collections of Asian art. Working with the Asian Civilisations Museum allows us to re-introduce the stories behind these precious artefacts of world heritage to Singapore and Asia, and provide greater clarity to what we know of this UNESCO World Heritage site and the once powerful Khmer empire. We hope to continue to share this with other audiences across the world.”

Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City at the Asian Civilisations Museum is part of Voilah! French Festival Singapore 2018.

Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet 

Dates: 8 April to 22 July 2018
Venue: Asian Civilisations Museum
Admission Fee:
Locals – $12 for adults, free for children and seniors
Non-locals – $20 for adults, $14 for children and seniors. Includes entry to Asian Civilisations Museum’s permanent galleries.

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