The National Museum of Cambodia was founded in 1917 in the capital city of Phnom Penh, and its distinguished building—loosely based on traditional Khmer palace architecture—was inaugurated in 1920. The museum was closed during the Khmer Rouge era (1975–79), but the objects and the structure survived that volatile time relatively intact.
Over the past 20 years, the museum has enjoyed new vitality, and significant improvements have been made to its organization, operation, and physical structure. Today the National Museum houses the worlds largest collection of Khmer art from various historical periods and all regions of the country. Stone and bronze sculptures are the highlights of the collection, which has been developed through direct acquisition of objects found in the course of official surveys and excavations as well as the transfer (for safekeeping) of sculptures and other works formerly housed at historical monuments.