Client: Bundeskunsthalle

Year: 2011

Museums and exhibitions

Angkor Wat, the biggest temple complex in the world, provided the title for an exhibition giving unique insight into Cambodia’s culture and allowing the visitors immerse themselves in a secret world. All exhibits were positioned in historical, social and religious context.

The gigantic temple of Angkor Wat is the biggest sacral building in the world. It represents the high point of the Khmer empire which rose to prominence in the 9th century. During its heyday the Khmer ruled all of today’s Cambodia, South Vietnam, Laos and the central plain of the Chao Phraya in Thailand.

The name Angkor stands for monumental and mysterious temple complexes located deep in the Cambodian jungle. And it also stood for the first exhibition of its scope on German soil that addressed an art form that has fascinated Europeans since its discovery in the mid-nineteenth century. The exhibition grants a unique overview of the culture in Cambodia. Featuring about 130 stone sculptures, bronze figures, wooden sculptures, silver objects and paintings, it spans the period from the 7th century up to the present, with the art and architecture of the Angkor period (9th to 13th century) taking centre stage.

Enabling visitors to experience the unbelievable diversity and monumentality of this culture and placing the exhibits in historical, social and religious context was the task for facts and fiction. We created various themed spaces showing different types of architecture, colour designs and scenes that allowed visitors immerse themselves in a mysterious and mystic world. The numerous sculptures displayed a fascinating variety of stylistic variation, and panorama pictures several metres high conveyed an impression of the huge temple compound.

The items on loan came from the National Museum in Phnom Penh, the Museum of Indian Art in Berlin and the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet in Paris. Additionally, important questions about water supply and distribution, rice cultivation and trade relations were addressed as foundations of the country’s extraordinary wealth.