Thursday, January 15, 2009

Museum visit

Yesterday I went to the museum with M's grade 9 class. It has been a while since I was parent help on any school outings and I have got to say helping with a class of 14 and 15 year olds is a breeze compared to remembered outings in the company of very hands on, energetic primary school classes with wandering tendencies and frequent toilet urges.

The visit was part of a design and technology class. Their brief was to examine the various exhibits and sketch, document and date any patterns or elements of design that caught their fancy as part of their research into conceptualising and crafting a pewter pendant.

They started outside in the green leafy garden with significant enthusiasm, heads bent over sketch books, tongues in the time honoured concentration position, before moving into the breeze cooled interior where they split into smaller natural groups to explore the long corridors and the large square shaped courtyard. No cameras allowed in the museum proper but the gardens provided a few good shots.

Located near the Royal Palace, an open block or two back from the riverside, Cambodia's National Museum provides a calm quiet setting for a predominantly sandstone collection of ancient Khmer art from both the Angkorean and pre-Angkorean eras off set by some more recent artifacts and implements and a gallery of old photographs in a frequently changing exhibition of the way Cambodia and it's people used to be.

Most guide books I have read suggest a visit to the museum before going to the temples many of the heads, statues and lintels have come from but I think I found more relevance having already visited the original setting for the various pieces of Angkors famous temples. It was fun being able to mentally place the demon heads back into their row at the south gate of Angkor Thom.
The museum, built between 1917 and 1920 by the then governing French, is housed in a terracotta tiled structure of traditional Cambodian design with pitched angles and open high ceilinged spaces.

The quiet courtyard in the middle of the structure, home to four ponds in a cruxiform shape anchored by a central pergola and immaculate manicured hedges and shrubs, is a great place for reflection and a reviving coffee.

We were there for about an hour, not really long enough so I will have to make time for a repeat visit. I can't wait to see what the kids produce!

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