Monday, October 5, 2009
Today began with a conversation with one of the most interesting people you are likely to meet in Cambodia. Darryl Collins (right) is a mine of information. Our conversation centered mainly on the National Museum, here in Phnom Penh and the work going on behind the scenes to document the museum's amazing collection of artifacts, which number upwards of 19,000, though only 2,000 are on show at any one time. He was full of praise for the professional way that the director Hab Touch has brought the museum up by the scruff of its neck, though it remains reliant on grants and individual contributions to maintain itself. The Collection Inventory Project is a labour of love that has been on-going now for a couple of years and which Darryl has been instrumental in training the project team of nine people. It is the first real attempt to catalogue, photograph and stock-take the museum's collection and an absolutely vital task to ensure the provenance of the collection as well as a window on the artifacts that have disappeared over the years. You can read more about the CIP on the museum's excellent website. Darryl now resides in Siem Reap and was joint author with Helen Grant Ross of the book, Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970. He began work on the CIP in 2004 after completing five years as a lecturer at the Royal University of Fine Arts. He's also known for relocating a 100 year old historic Chinese-Khmer wooden house, piece by piece, from an island in Kompong Cham to its new home in Siem Reap.