Revealing Krishna: Journey To Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain at the Cleveland Museum of Art .

Revealing Krishna is one of the current highlights at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It tells the story of the circuitous route that their Cambodian Krishna carving took to arrive at the museum as well as the several attempts to restore it and connect it with it’s correct pieces.

One of the gratifying parts of the story is the co-operation between the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Cleveland Museum. Earlier attempts to restore the Cleveland statue resulting in mismatched pieces…which eventually led to swaps of statue fragments with the National Museum to get the statue in Cleveland and another in Phnom Penh matched with their correct pieces.

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan after 2020 restoration, c. 600. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Phnom Da. Sandstone; 203.1 x 68 x 55.5 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1973.106

In addition to Cleveland’s Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan, the exhibit includes a number of other CMA holdings of Cambodian sculpture plus this stunning carving of the same subject on loan from the National Museum in Phnom Penh:

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan, c. 700. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Wat Koh. Sandstone; 161 (without 27 cm tenon) x 65.5 x 35.2 cm. National Museum of Cambodia, Ka.1625. Photo: Konstanty Kulik 

But this exhibit goes beyond the wall cards and wall text that is standard signage in any museum. There is also a visual component that uses a visor and holograms to present details of the restoration process, original site in Cambodia, and the trek that the statue made on its journey to Cleveland. And the exhibit ends with a number of interactive videos that present three dimensional representations of the eight sculptures of gods from the original site along with text explaining who they are and how they are significant to the site and the story! Beyond the ‘in the flesh statues’ this last bit was the most informative and for me at least the next most useful piece of the exhibit.

The “Gods of Phnom Da” digital gallery displays life-size 3-D models of the eight gods of Phnom Da, from c. 600, with motion-activated animations exploring details and iconographic elements. Photo: The Cleveland Museum of Art

More info: Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain runs until January 30, 2022. There is an entrance fee for this exhibit of $15 but there are discounts for seniors and students and others. Tickets are timed and can be ordered at the link above.

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan (detail), c. 600. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Phnom Da. Sandstone; 203.1 x 68 x 55.5 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1973.106

Janauary 6, 2022: update. Here’s a short documentary from PBS: How 3-D technology helped restore ‘Cleveland Krishna’ statue

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