Have you ever wondered what it was like to live during the heyday of the Khmer empire? Have you wondered what it was like to be surrounded by all the splendours of ancient Angkorian temples? If so, this time next year you will have a chance to find out as the finishing touches are being put on a museum dedicated to the preservation and understanding of the Khmer Heritage.

The museum, which is a collaboration between tech-specialised Phnom Penh-based incubator Confluences and ‘digitisation for preservation’ specialist Iconem, will open next year in the home of Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. The opening date is slated for December 2021.

According to the museum’s creators, the museum will be the first permanent virtual museum that allows visitors to totally immerse themselves in Khmer culture by projecting 3D images and videos of the Angkor temples of the past onto the museum walls. The special effect will afford viewers a complete 360 degrees experience.

“The Immersive Angkor project is based on a unique partnership between two startups. Iconem brings its cutting-edge techniques in the 3D documentation of archaeological sites while Confluences brings its perfect knowledge of Cambodia’s institutions and culture. This is what allows us to offer an experience that fits all audiences and everyone involved in the promotion of this exceptional site.” Etienne Tellier, CEO, Iconem.

In addition to helping visitors to understand Khmer culture, the museum’s creators are hoping that the new addition to Cambodia’s tourism sector will help position Siem Reap as a high-end tourism destination. Confluences and Iconem are also hoping that the new concept will generate increased interest and help tackle ‘the slowing growth in tourist arrivals in the region, which started even before the Covid-19’ outbreak.

“We have worked on many projects in tourism, and even before Covid-19, it was clear that the country needed to revamp its tourism strategy. A project like Immersive Angkor can contribute greatly to this because it is innovative and spectacular. I am absolutely positive this museum will be a huge success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the entire ecosystem.” says Lily Hé, COO at Confluences.

In addition to boosting Cambodia’s tourism industry, museum’s creators are also hoping the 3D digitization of the sites will help preserve the ancient temples from further erosion.

The new museum will open in December 2121.