World Heritage Sites and Museums foster heritage education

Students from the Chey Primary School, Phnom Bok learning about the "Mudra or Gesture” at the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum. © Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum

From January to June 2013, nine World Heritage Site Museums in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam are launching the education programmes associated with the sub-regional exhibition “Our Common Heritage: Exploring the World Heritage Sites of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam”. They put in motion often little known immaterial aspects related to their World Heritage Sites, for the appreciation of young visitors. Along with the sub-regional exhibitions, this educational programme is generously funded by the Government of Japan through UNESCO.

The selected subjects and forms of activities are as diverse as the number of the participating museums:

  1. The meaning of the Buddhist and Hindu hand and body gestures (Mudra), Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum (Cambodia)
  2. Iconographic programme of King Jayavarman VII, Angkor National Museum (Cambodia)
  3. Use of and transmission of the skills to reproduce traditional motifs (kbach) in everyday objects and rituals, National Museum of Cambodia (Cambodia) 
  4. The sacred character of a heritage landscape in Cambodia, Preah Vihear Eco Global Museum (Cambodia) 
  5. The symbolism of dragons associated with the kingship in Dai Viet dynasties, Thang Long Citadel Site Museum (Viet Nam)
  6. Construction techniques of stone fortress of Ho Dynasty, Ho Citadel Site Museum (Viet Nam) 
  7. The worship of Po Nagar (an indigenous goddess of Central Viet Nam), Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture (Viet Nam)
  8. The legend of river goddess Lady Thu Bon in Viet Nam, My Son Site Museum (Viet Nam) as well as
  9. The sacred mountain of Lingaparvata in Laos, Vat Phou Site Museum (Laos).

Fruits of the reflection over the ways museums can play a more active role in stimulating cognitive and sensorial capacities of children, as well as in enriching their cultural life and learning of their own history, the education programmes have also provided opportunities for museum staff to conceive innovative and more engaging public outreach programmes. By associating local schools and other educational institutions, these site museums – previously tending to remain static archaeological depots – are exploring their potential as mediator between the site and local communities for invaluable heritage education.

They also follow the general UNESCO developed activity worksheets for site, museum and classroom that can be used for the general student and which will be available online soon. Further activities of the project participating museums can be seen on the right.

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