20.10.2016 - Culture Sector

Already 90.000 Visitors saw Exhibition “Cambodia and World War One, The Underwater Heritage”

a sonar image of the SS Mendi wreck © Wessex Archaeology

The exhibition “Cambodia and World War One, The Underwater Heritage” at the National Museum of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, greeted beginning of October 2016 its 90.000th visitor. The exhibition, organized by UNESCO Field Office Phnom Pen in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Cambodia and sponsored by the Flemish Authorities (Belgium), sheds new light on the largely unrevealed themes of Cambodia’s role in World War I and the importance of underwater cultural heritage as messenger of peace that remains behind.

Cambodians, who participated in World War I were transported to Europe by boat and many of them lost their lives during transport. Naval battles were a major part of WWI and many remains from this time are still on the seabed. This underwater cultural heritage, final resting place of many crews and passengers, is an important testimony of the events and a messenger of the need for peace and reconciliation. It is protected by the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

The exhibition was originally due to run until 30 September 2016. However, because of its success, the Government of Cambodia decided to it until 31 December 2016. It will later travel to the Cambodian provinces and to European museums. The exhibition is part of the UNESCO Education Initiative “Heritage for Peace and Reconciliation” based on underwater cultural heritage from World War I in occasion of the Centenary of the conflict. It contributes to raising awareness about underwater cultural heritage in the framework of the UNESCO 2001 Convention.




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