The impressive dark-red sandstone building of the National Museum of Cambodia houses a rich collection of sculpture, relics and artefacts, dating from prehistoric times to the present. The collection had to be abandoned in 1975 when the city was emptied by the Khmer Rouge; it was subsequently looted and the museum’s director murdered. By 1979, when the population returned, the roof had collapsed and the galleries and courtyard had succumbed to the advances of nature – for a time the museum had to battle constantly to protect its exhibits from the guano produced by the millions of bats which had colonized the roof; these were finally driven out in 2002.

The museum opened in 1918, and, designed by the French archeologist, George Groslier, comprises four linked galleries that form a rectangle around a leafy courtyard, its roof topped with protective nagas.

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