The Smithsonian Institution and Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts Sign a Cultural Agreement between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the United States

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2023 


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona, and Chase Robinson, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Culture and the Smithsonian to expand professional development, increase information sharing and promote Cambodian culture. 

The MOU establishes the specific goals of increasing museum staff capacity through exchanges; facilitating counsel on museum management; loaning and exchanging exhibitions and other objects; and collaborating on research. The MOU will also strengthen collaboration between the United States and Cambodia on cultural heritage preservation and countering illicit trafficking of Cambodian antiquities and artifacts. 

The signing of the MOU is another testament to robust U.S.-Cambodia cultural cooperation, including efforts to preserve and restore Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage and reduce the pillaging of irreplaceable archaeological materialThe United States has facilitated the return of over 100 priceless antiquities to Cambodia and contributed funding and training to protect, preserve, and restore Cambodia’s cultural heritage over the past 20 years. 

 At the ceremony, Ambassador Murphy said, “Both our countries recognize the value of culture in bringing people together and instilling pride in identity and heritage.  This agreement demonstrates an enduring U.S. commitment to preserving the Kingdom of Cambodia’s culture.” 

The MOU “promises the conversation and collaboration will continue, that we will learn from each other through open exchange that research and knowledge sharing will expand,” said Chase Robinson. 

H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Fine Arts remarked “We are thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian Institution to work together for conservation, training of human resources, and storytelling to bring our cultural heritage to the world.” 

Since 2001, the United States has provided $6 million for the preservation of Cambodia’s culture heritage, including grants to restore Preah Vihear and Phnom Bakheng temples, support the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, create of digital inventories of objects at provincial museums, and build programs to create awareness among the public on cultural heritage protection.