Monday, December 5, 2022

Preserving the Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery at Angkor Wat

World Monuments Fund has focused on preserving the Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery by reinstating the roof's ancient drainage system using appropriate materials and methods. 

The massive undertaking involved dismantling the gallery roof, documenting and cleaning each stone, inspecting and treating surrounding materials, and reassembling the roof to prevent future water damage to the bas-relief, which is the main feature of the gallery. In the process, over 1,000 roof stones were carefully documented, and those that required treatment were desalinated and conserved.

The ingenious original drainage system, which allowed rainwater to drain and a removable, impermeable layer of lead was added for additional protection. World Monuments Fund worked closely with APSARA National Authority and the German APSARA Conservation Unit on this project, which took place between 2007 and 2012.

During the project, the WMF team discovered that the roof was originally crowned by a row of finials with dancing figures standing on lotus platforms. Replicas of the original carvings were created and will be put in place on the gallery roof. 

At APSARA's request, WMF will also create a wooden ceiling for the gallery, based on surviving fragments from Angkor Wat and research into traditional Khmer designs. This will give visitors a sense of the proportions of the interior space and, for the first time, will enable them to fully experience the beauty of the Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery. 

Learn more at Photos Roderick Eime.

The writer toured Angkor Wat as a guest of Alluring Cambodia Travel

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