Introduction

Vannath 2Towards national reconciliation: A peace museum for Cambodians

CPCS is in the process of establishing the Cambodia Peace Museum, an educational and experiential space geared towards supporting a wider national healing process – one which highlights the resilience of Cambodia’s people in transforming conflict and overcoming adversity, as well as the nation’s potential as a peacebuilding learning centre for it’s regional neighbours.

The need for a new museum in Cambodia was conceived as early as 2000. Cambodia’s past conflicts are already represented in a variety of museums and sites, albeit within the contexts of a narrow lens on history. These museums serve a critical role in remembrance by creating awareness, preserving materials and keeping a history from being forgotten.

However, these institutions do not aim to address Cambodia’s greater past, foundation of conflicts and peacebuilding processes. It is a nation with continued difficulties, class struggles and social inequities.

The Cambodia Peace Museum will use engaging, interactive exhibits to tell the complex history of Cambodia, highlighting the transformational and personal stories of Cambodia’s peacebuilders and building national stability, pride and awareness for Cambodians and the greater ASEAN community.

Our dream is that the museum is a transformative experience, explaining Cambodia’s dynamic story and showcasing the resiliency of Cambodians in such a way that all visitors are inspired to become actors for peace.

“It will be a place of meeting, storytelling, remembering, understanding, explanations, forgiveness and letting go. It will help to explain to the rest of the world how and why violence comes about and how to prevent it in other parts of the world. But finally and perhaps most importantly it can help to transform the attitude and feelings Cambodians have about ourselves. We are not proud of our past, we often question ourselves – how could we allow such things to happen. We need mechanisms to understand, and then to see also our successes.”

Soth Plai Ngarm – Preventing Future Genocide: A vision for a peace museum in Cambodia

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