New exhibition explores the rise, decline, and resilience of the world’s largest religious complex
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – October 11, 2022— Some may recognize the iconic skyline of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument with five conical-shaped towers that – when seen from a particular angle – create the profile of a lotus bud. Others may have never heard the word Angkor. That’s about to change. Angkor: Empire of Cambodia, the newest special exhibition from NHMU, offers visitors a chance to explore the ancient empire of Angkor through the lenses of history and science.
Perhaps NHMU’s most ambitious special exhibition to date, Angkor has been made possible by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation “We are thrilled to sponsor this fascinating and exciting exhibition,” said Foundation President & COO Lisa Eccles, “offering a rare opportunity to experience the engineering and cultural marvels of this remarkable World Heritage site from the 12th Century that remains important today. It’s truly amazing!”
“We cannot wait for the public to experience Angkor,” said Jason Cryan, executive director of NHMU. “Whether it’s a first introduction to Angkor or deeper exploration into this vast empire, this exhibition blends scientific discovery with ancient artifacts, offering decades of insights into the complex cultural history of Southeast Asia, from the 12th century to modern day. I just know that our visitors will be captivated.”
Featuring 120 artifacts – half of which are on tour outside of Cambodia for the very first time – Angkor: Empire of Cambodia begins in the dense forest surrounding the temple complex and transports museumgoers to southeast Asia with water projections, temple replicas, and several interactive components revealing how the tools of science advance our understanding of history.
“Logistically, Angkor stands out in my nearly 20 years at NHMU because of its size and scale,” says Tim Lee, director of exhibits. “But it also does in terms of recognizing the significant opportunity and responsibility we have to bring ancient Khmer and modern Cambodian culture to NHMU visitors and to our community.”
The exhibition mirrors the history of Angkor itself and tells a complex and layered story of what can be learned through scientific research in the context of colonialism, religious evolution, and technological advances. It also speaks to where archaeology intersects with modern life.
While planning for Angkor: Empire of Cambodia, NHMU worked closely with members of the Utah Cambodian Community Buddhist Temple, some of whom will be honored guests and lecturers throughout the run of the exhibition, which ends in April 2023.
Ray Hour, director of the Utah Cambodian Community Buddhist Temple and West Valley City business owner, will be among those sharing his perspective on Saturday afternoon of October 22, when Angkor: Empire of Cambodia opens to the public.
“On behalf of the UCCBT community, we are so excited to join the Natural History Museum of Utah in sharing Cambodian history, culture, and life in Utah with everyone,” Hour said. “Our hope is that people learn more about where we come from and take part in our community in Salt Lake City, where we always welcome visitors and supporters.”
For more information on Angkor: Empire of Cambodia, please visit: https://nhmu.utah.edu/museum/exhibits/angkor.
To get your tickets to Angkor ahead of time, please visit: nhmu.utah.edu.