The National Museum of Cambodia: The Building is a Work of Art Too
What to see at the National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is located near the Royal Palace in a gorgeous old Cambodian-Colonial style building, which dates back to the founding of the museum in 1920. The collection is interesting, but students of architecture will possibly find this incredible old building even more so.
The museum houses the kingdom’s largest collection of Cambodian art, artifacts, antiques, and treasures
The museum’s collection includes artifacts from all periods of Cambodia’s ancient and medieval history - some dating back to the pre-Angkor era.
It’s a beautiful museum, but unfortunately the building is not air-conditioned. While shady, it can get a bit hot and stuffy. My only other complaint about the otherwise excellent museum is that many of the exhibits and displays lack information boards giving any real history or context to the artifacts. If you are really interested in learning about the history of the exhibits, I recommend renting one of the additional audio guides that are available when you purchase a ticket.
The history of the National Museum of Cambodia
The Cambodian National Museum was opened on Khmer New Year, 1920. The elegant and imposing red museum building was designed in the style of Khmer Buddhist temples. In the years after its inauguration, the museum accumulated the world’s largest collections of ancient Khmer artifacts, dating back to before the Angkor Empire (Angkor Wat).
Sadly, the museum was abandoned and fell into disrepair in the 1970s when the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia. It has since been restored to its former state, and today is the authority on Cambodian history, art, and archaeology.
Take some time to walk around the museum’s courtyard. Here, you can buy a cool drink and sit in the shade, watching the fish and fountains in the ponds.
People love taking photographs in the courtyard. You might even see a young Cambodian couple taking their pre-wedding photos here!
National Museum of Cambodia (Phnom Penh) or the Angkor National Museum (Siem Reap)?
Cambodia actually has two different national museums: the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap.
What’s the difference between these two museums? Is one better than the other?
Honestly, if you have the time and are interested in Cambodian art and history, you really ought to visit both museums.
The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is older (1920s). It has a larger, more extensive collection. This museum is located in the capital, and receives more government funding and attention. However, the building itself (though beautiful) is much older, and is not air-conditioned. The collection is large, but is not laid out in the most caring way. Some of the artifacts seem a bit dusty or neglected. There is also not so much posted information. If you don’t rent an audio guide, you may have a hard time telling one artifact from the next.
The Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap is newer and flashier. While the collection is smaller, this museum receives far more private funding. It is fully air-conditioned, the displays are well-laid out and fully informative. The Angkor National Museum is dedicated entirely to Angkor-Era (Khmer Empire) artifacts and history.
Information about the National Museum of Cambodia
National Museum Location
The National Museum of Cambodia is located at Preah Ang Eng St. (13), Phnom Penh, near the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.
National Museum Opening Hours
The National Museum of Cambodia is open daily from 8:00 - 17:00.
National Museum Admission
Admission to the National Museum of Cambodia costs $10 (or 40,000 khr)
The optional audio guide costs an additional $5