The first UNESCO exhibition on global underwater cultural heritage to be held in the Asia-Pacific region has now opened in Bangkok. The exhibition is a part of a regional programme supported by the Government of Norway.
The exhibition, titled “Saving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage”, was opened on 16th of August at Siam Ocean World in Bangkok. The exhibition is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protecting the marine environment and the region’s underwater cultural heritage.
During the opening ceremony Dr. Gwang-Jo Kim, director of UNESCO Bangkok, emphasized that there is a growing threat to underwater archaeological sites in the Asian region. Shipwrecks and sunken monuments are vulnerable to exploitation by treasure hunters, commercial fishing and major construction projects. In 2001, UNESCO established the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in order develop international standards and legal frameworks to assure better protection of these areas. Through the exhibition in Bangkok, UNESCO seeks cooperation and support from the general public in the fight against illegal treasure hunting and destruction of underwater sites.
The exhibition is a result of a partnership between UNESCO Bangkok, the Thai Fine Arts Department, and Siam Ocean World Bangkok. The exhibition is also a part of a wider UNESCO regional programme funded by the Government of Norway. Through the regional programme the Asia-Pacific Regional Field Training Centre on Underwater Cultural Heritage has been established. The centre was opened in 2009 in Chanthaburi, Thailand, and is hosted by the Underwater Archeology Division of the Thai Fine Arts Department. The centre provides training of archaeological site managers and conservation professions from Asia and the Pacific. The aim is to increase regional capacities for management and protection. The Chanthaburi facility is one of the best-equipped maritime archaeology facilities in the region and is positioned to become a “Centre of Excellence” for the Asia-Pacific region.
The exhibition in Bangkok will be displayed until 31st of October 2010. Following a tour in November 2010, the exhibition will eventually become a part of a permanent collection of the National Maritime Museum in Chanthaburi.