2001 – Start
In February 2001 the Siem Reap War Museum was built in partnership with the Ministry of National Defense on more than 2 hectares of land, a former landmine field, just off National Road 6 between the airport and the city center of Siem Reap.
The items were salvaged from areas such as Anlong Veng (situated in north-western Cambodia) after the civil war ended in 1999.
2008 – Visits drop off
The Siem Reap War Museum was facing a battle to stay open in the face of mass desertion by tourists: visitor numbers had dwindled to about 20 a day.
2013 – New beginning
For 12 years the museum was deteriorating. In 2013 however the first foreigner ever, Richard Esselaar, started to work for the museum as adjunct director and the name of the museum was changed from Siem Reap War Museum into War Museum Cambodia. As the first volunteer ever, Light Hwang was working in the museum as well in 2013. During this time e.g. internal organization changes had been applied, working conditions of staff had been improved and improvements were being made in the museum itself, e.g. descriptions were added to photos hanging in the displays of the museum.
Marketing and sales were introduced and visitor numbers rose significantly. In December 2013 for the first time in its history the museum was being visited by more than 100 visitors a day. In this year the museum had received for the first time a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award.
2014/2016 – Continue going uphill
In 2014 improvements were being made in the museum itself, e.g. a timeline was made and text was added to displays of the museum. Museum uniforms and internet were introduced.
For the first time in its history the museum reached over 200 visitors a day, namely the 7th of January 2015 the museum was being visited by 225 visitors.
The 18th of May 2015 the museum was damaged by a powerful storm. Soon after the drainage system was improved. To preserve the unique collection for posterity Project Preservation (see pictures below) started along with other, smaller, projects like the Stand Display Project. To finance also these projects external funding was introduced. It was also made possible to donate artifacts.
In the picture below you can see a worker removing rust from a weapon by the use of sandpaper and the operation manager is fixing and oiling a weapon:
On the pictures below you can see a handle of a weapon before and after removing the rust:
On the picture below you can see a mortar shell before and after been dealt with: