Cambodia, U.S. Sign Deal to Preserve and Catalogue S21 Victim Clothing

Textiles belonging to the victims of S21 detention, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, will be preserved and catalogued thanks to a US$75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State's Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).

H.E Mrs. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. W. Patrick Murphy signed the grant agreement here yesterday.

According to the U.S. Embassy, the project, "Conservation of 20th-Century Ethnographic Objects at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Phase II," highlights the United States longstanding efforts to preserve Cambodian cultural heritage, as well as U.S. cooperation with Cambodian authorities to document the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era.

The project is implemented by the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum with the technical support of American Julia Brennan, a textile conservationist based in Washington DC, who has trained the museum staff to sustain the project on their own. The textile conservation includes preservation training workshops and triage, treatment, cataloguing, and selecting items for safe long-term display of more than 5,000 textile remains.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the U.S. In January, the Embassy highlights U.S. contributions in the agricultural sector of Cambodia. This project uses a drybox drybead microclimate system, which is a technique of drying and preserving clothing that originates from use in agriculture. This project is one of the first times this technology has been used for a cultural heritage project.

In 2017, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts received a grant of US$55,500 for the first phase of the textile project. The project was the first ever effort to document and preserve the clothing of S21 victims, which had been stored for decades at the museum.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press