Ministry Director Hab Touch Promotes Cambodian Culture

Ministry Director Hab Touch Promotes Cambodian Culture
Central courtyard of the National Museum of Cambodia. The building was designed by George Groslier, who went on to become its first director in 1920.

After serving as Director and Deputy Director of the National Museum of Cambodia (NMC) since 1996, Mr. Hab Touch has now been appointed to a new position in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

Mr. Hab will now serve as Director-General in charge of the Department General of Cultural Affairs. This department is responsible for cultivating creativity in Cambodian within a broad range of arts disciplines and Mr. Hab will oversee five departments: the Department of Performing Arts; the Department of Cultural Development; the Department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion; the Department of Fine Arts and Crafts; and the Department of Publications and Reading.

Mr. Hab will now serve as Director-General in charge of the Department General of Cultural Affairs. This department is responsible for cultivating creativity in Cambodian within a broad range of arts disciplines and Mr. Hab will oversee five departments: the Department of Performing Arts; the Department of Cultural Development; the Department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion; the Department of Fine Arts and Crafts; and the Department of Publications and Reading.

During his time with the NMC Mr. Hab was responsible for the world’s most magnificent collection of Khmer art managing many important projects protecting, preserving and promoting Cambodian cultural heritage.

Designed by George Groslier, who was born in Cambodia in 1887, the museum was built from 1917-1920 during the period of the French Protectorate in Cambodia (1863-1953). Groslier’s innovative design, with gabled roofs and carved doors reminiscent of ancient Khmer temples, remains a highlight of the fusion of traditional Khmer architecture and French colonial style in Phnom Penh.  On April 13, 1920 the museum was inaugurated under the auspices of His Majesty King Sisowath of Cambodia. In 1920, George Groslier became the museum’s first director, creating the historic position in which Mr. Hab has recently served.

Ministry Director Hab Touch Promotes Cambodian Culture
Masterpieces of Khmer Culture – A detailed guide to some of Cambodia’s most unique artistic treasures with descriptions in Khmer, English, French and Japanese.

As Director, Mr. Hab’s efforts resulted in significant improvements in the museum’s capacity to accommodate visitors and in its collection management. Important projects have included the establishment of the Conservation Laboratories, the Collection Inventory Projects, the Renewal of the Electrical System and Lighting, and many physical improvement to the gallery displays and refurbishment of the building.  The Museum Research Library has also been upgraded, and new educational programs continue to attract and train new generations of museum professionals in Cambodia.

Most recently, the National Museum of Cambodia hosted the launch of the Red List of Cambodian Antiquities at Risk, helping authorities focus on preventing pillage, theft and illegal export of cultural property.

In 2007, the museum published a multi-lingual museum catalog, Masterpieces of the National Museum of Cambodia, with the help of Friends of Khmer Culture and editor Dr. Helen Jessup.

Mr. Hab also played a large role in organizing the international exhibition of Khmer art, Angkor – Sacred Heritage Of Cambodia, attending its grand opening in Bonn Germany in 2006. The exhibition went on to inspire international audiences in Switzerland and Berlin.

Ministry Director Hab Touch Promotes Cambodian Culture
National Museum Director Hab Touch meeting with DatAsia publisher Kent Davis in December 2008. Photo by Anders Jiras.

Journalist Andy Brouwer published three excellent articles on the international exhibit: Museum Pieces on the Move; Angkor’s Sacred Heritage and Hab Touch – Khmer Heritage in his Hands.

The new Director of the National Museum of Cambodia will be Mrs. Oun Phalline, who has served as Deputy Director of the NMC administration office since 1996. She follows in the footsteps of another distinguished woman director, historian Madeleine Giteau.

Devata.org wishes Mr. Hab Touch and Mrs. Oun Phalline great success in their new positions preserving and promoting Khmer culture and Cambodia’s cultural heritage.

Article by Kent Davis – www.devata.org

Ministry Director Hab Touch Promotes Cambodian Culture

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