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Official Cambodian Delegation Visits WMF

From May 14 to 20, WMF hosted a delegation of officials from Cambodia to conduct a conservation planning workshop for Phnom Bakheng, one of the oldest temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. WMF began working on this project in 2004 and conducted a series of surveys to understand the conditions and conservation challenges of the site. Since that time, WMF has been engaged with APSARA National Authority in a comprehensive conservation program, which is ongoing.

Workshop sessions were held from May 16 to 18 to discuss current conditions at the site and possible solutions to technical challenges as well as the overall visitor experience at Phnom Bakheng. Much of the workshop was dedicated to understanding how best to protect and monitor the site at the conclusion of the conservation project. To many visitors, Phnom Bakheng is famous for the view over Angkor Wat at sunset, as the temple is at the highest point in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Visitors also take elephant rides up to the top of the hill. Conversations focused on the conservation challenges and how best to assure an enjoyable experience for visitors. It is also important for foreign visitors to remember that Phnom Bakheng and the other temples at Angkor are sacred places and must be respected and cherished for their cultural significance as well as their beauty.

As most of the Cambodian participants had never been to New York City, visits to historic sites were organized to further examine heritage management at a variety of cultural sites. Various locations around Manhattan were explored, including the High Line, Statue of Liberty, Museum of Modern Art, Federal Hall, St. Paul's Chapel, Trinity Church, the South Street Seaport, Fort Tryon Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations. Several WMF staff members who accompanied the group commented that they were visiting some of these places for the first time. Thus it was an opportunity to explore the city even for some of the Americans! The week with the Cambodian delegation was productive and enjoyable and we look forward to continuing work at Phnom Bakheng.