During the 1st ASEAN India Summit in 2002, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India announced a grant of USD 1 million for the setting up of the MGC Asian Traditional Textile Museum under the MGC Framework. Siem Reap in Cambodia was chosen as the destination for setting up the museum. The museum was envisioned to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the MGC countries and their shared cultural synergies. The MoU between India and Cambodia for the Textile Museum was signed on 29 June 2004.
At the MGC Ministerial Meeting in 2007, all the MGC countries committed support to the project in terms of expertise, exhibits, and artifacts. The foundation stone of the museum was laid in September 2010 and construction of the Museum was completed in December 2011. The museum was opened for the public in April 2014. It was a first of its kind in Cambodia to exhibit a variegated style of textiles from the Mekong Ganga region along with their processes and contemporary adaptations.
Highlights of the various activities undertaken and events held by the Museum
• The inauguration ceremony of the Museum was flagged off by “Vastram”, a traveling Exhibition from India in 2014.
• A Fashion show of all six MGC countries was held in 2015 culminating in a documentary film undertaken by the Government of India on the Museum titled ‘The Power of Six’.
• Two museum staff members were sponsored under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Training program at Indira Gandhi National Center of Arts (IGNCA) from 16 September 2016 to 15 December 2016.
• Yet another Museum Staff attended the Coll Asia Course on ‘Conserving Textiles and Costumes in Southeast Asian Collections’ conducted by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) at Antigua, Guatemala between 24 October 2016 and 11 November 2016.
• A Conservation Workshop was held by Dr. Achal Pandya of IGNCA from 29 January to 3 February 2016 for Museum staff and others deputed by MGC countries. The workshop focused on the preventive and remedial conservation of textiles.
• A special multi-fiber, ‘Performance Garment’ was installed in the Museum which was designed and loaned by Australia-based designer Clementine Robertson in 27 January 2016. The fibers were spun and woven by the Khmer weavers.
• Lotus and Kapok fiber spun garments were gifted by Samatoa Lotus Textiles in 2016.
• The Museum was gifted traditional textile weaving tools and accessories by Ms. Gillian Green in March 2016.
• Workshops with children were held on Pabuji no Phad, PreahAngChek, and PreahAngChorn along with block-printing, painting, and embroidery.
• Road to the Mekong – Indian women motorcyclists were hosted at the Museum in March 2018
• Training workshops have been conducted for the Museum staff towards understanding the basics of textile embellishment techniques - tie and dye, batik, mask making, painting, printing, and collage techniques for school children workshops.
• Pamphlet has been produced for Museum staff towards understanding the context of mask–making towards the change of identity through visual representation and its relation to clothing.
• In collaboration with Shri BharatvarshiyaDigamber Jain TeerthSanrakshiniMahasabha, a Seminar on Trade Relations and Comparative Study of Buddhism and Jainism in Southeast Asia were held in May 2018 along with a supportive exhibition and publication of a small pamphlet on Jainism.
• Workshops with staff for handcrafted accessories towards understanding and sensitizing the staff to the relation and connection of natural indigenous fibers and skills to the weaving of fabric were conducted. Hathkam (Khmer term for ‘’handiwork’’) endeavor towards economic empowerment, community engagement, and interactive workshops for the future was initiated.
• Pamphlet was prepared for introducing ‘the origin and basics of weaving ‘ tracing the shift from the yarn to textile, ornament to clothing, and from the traditional to the contemporary for the MGCATT Museum staff.
• Workshop was conducted on ‘draping’ for the Museum Staff by Prof. Chetna Bhatt towards providing an understanding of the development of clothing, both historical and contemporary; an understanding of properties, feel, fall and styling of fabric; inculcating the art aesthetics of styling for display, communication, and design.
• A small exhibit on Yon or Yantra was put up for the delegates of the International Conference on Buddhism in Southeast Asia in August 2018.
• A ten-minute video on ‘Walk- through the Museum’ for the visit of H.E. Ms. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India to the Museum was produced in August 2018.
• Exhibition and entry of handcrafted accessory made by Museum staff was put up at the Open French Week Exhibition in March 2019.
• Soft accessories were exhibited at the CCI venue of Hathkam Accessories at APSARA in 2019.
• Exhibition-cum-sale of Hathkam accessories by the Museum staff was organized at the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations in August 2019.
• Study trip was conducted to the Institute of Khmer Traditional Textiles(IKTT) for understanding the processes and production of silk weaving in Cambodia for the Museum staff in 2019.
• Conservation workshop was held in collaboration with Phnom Penh National Museum and Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh in 2019.
Prominent Visitors to the Museum
• H.E. Mr. Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India in September 2015, Prof. Lokesh Chandra, President, ICCR in May 2016, Justice G.B. Patnaik, former Chief Justice of India in October 2016, H.E. Ms. Sara Valdes Bolano, Ambassador of Mexico in July 2016, the Official Media Delegation in December 2016 and the Delegation of H.E. Mr. Ram NathKovind, Hon’ble Governor of Bihar in Feb 2017. Visits were also made by Mr. U Nyan Jun, Vice President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Vice Senior General, Mr. Soe Win, Princess Bhopa Devi, and Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development.