Best known for its spectacular complex of temples around Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s premier tourism destination Siem Reap has an art and culture scene to be reckoned with, and one that’s ever on the rise.
While just a few years back concerns were rife at the speed with which the city’s galleries were shutting their doors, these days our tiny little temple town is thankfully once again home to a wealth of visit-worthy collections of art. Indeed, some of the best collectables in the region – and some of the most innovative community art initiatives – are being incubated by the new crop of amazing galleries. These are some of our favourite Siem Reap art galleries, we do hope you’ll visit them while you’re here and support the incredible work they’re doing to sprout a modern art culture from the ashes of the Khmer Rouge regime.
One Eleven Gallery
Centrally located by the river between Old Market and Wat Damnak Village, the gallery showcases both a permanent collection of work as well as a rotation of exhibitions by visiting artists.
This chic space currently houses a range of work from Siem Reap-based artists such as world-renowned Belgian painter Christian Develter, well known for his larger-than-life, vibrant Chin Series, as well as Hungarian photographer Antal Gabelics and his meditative, mandala-esque Angkorian prints.
Not to be missed is the gallery’s bar, which stays open after gallery hours to serve up quality drinks and signature cocktails. One Eleven Gallery also regularly host a variety of events and live musical performances.
Update: As of June 2019, artwork from One Eleven Gallery’s stable of artists now hangs in Baby Elephant’s premium rooms. This work will be available for purchase soon, and provides a welcome contemporary Cambodian feel to our beautiful rooms. We are proud to provide this much-deserved attention to the Cambodian and locally-based artists whose work now graces our walls.
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-11pm; Old Market Bridge; 095-930-090; https://www.oneelevengallery.com/
Mirage is a contemporary Siem Reap art gallery, art space and collective founded in 2016 by Cambodian-Canadian photographer and skateboarder Serey Siv and his Korean partner Kyungmin Mun. The space operates as a gallery and creative work space with exhibitions and events. Mirage focuses on the rediscovery, presentation, and preservation of Khmer culture, but Serey says the collective of creatives is multicultural and inclusive, giving stage to international artists and performers as well as giving platform to diverse Cambodian voices.
We love their interesting events and their ever-growing hub of cool creatives who you’ll meet when you drop in there. Keep your eye out for Manuela Kind, of the Mirage collective, who is doing design work with Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel.
Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm; Oknha Oum Chhay Street/ Street 03, Siem Reap, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, Cambodia; 086 367 730; 086 367 730; https://www.mirage-collective.com
Tribe Urban Art Gallery
Opening in November 2018, TRIBE Urban Art Gallery is an art gallery in Siem Reap’s Kandal Village, a little community in French colonial-style buildings that has sprouted in what was once a traditional market.
Nat Di Maggio & Terry McIlkenny, the founders both share a love and passion for urban street and contemporary art. Originally from London UK where they have been heavily immersed in the street art scene as gallery and exhibition curators and collectors.
The gallery’s purpose and mission is to primarily nurture and support local Khmer talent, established and emerging. Inviting international artists to showcase their work, share their experiences and skills, tell their stories enabling Khmer Artists to realise their global artistic possibilities.
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm; Central Market Street, Siem Reap, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, Cambodia, 081 378 229 655; https://www.facebook.com/pg/TRIBEcambodia/
For Batia Sarem, a new and exciting gallery on Bamboo Street, Siem Reap is a gateway from where the curators can take the works to collectors in Asia, Europe or elsewhere, via art fairs, gallery or museum exhibitions, while exhibiting to and for Cambodians in the first instance.
The gallery name pays tribute to the memory of two women whose coming together is an embodiment of our gallery. Batia, Yves’s maternal grandmother, who escaped anti-Semitism in Poland – the horrors of which she never forgot – for Israel. Sarem, Lyvann’s paternal grandmother, a woman dedicated to the arts, a professor of classical ballet who perished in the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge.
These collections of work must be seen by any serious art collector when you visit Siem Reap.
11:00 – 7:00 Mon – Sun, 45 Bamboo Street, Siem Reap, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, Cambodia; batiasarem at gmail.com; 086 336 720; https://www.facebook.com/pg/batiasarem/
Update: McDermott Gallery is currently closed.
American photographer John McDermott has been visiting Siem Reap since the mid-1990s, originally attracted by a total solar eclipse that we wanted to see occur over Angkor Wat, and has travelled extensively in Southeast Asia while producing work on ancient temples and cultural heritage sites.
As well as remaining an active photographer and having his work on permanent display at Phnom Penh’s National Museum, he has in the meantime founded three galleries in Siem Reap dedicated to Cambodian and Asia-based artists, the first of which was the sleek, eponymous McDermott Gallery at the city’s Foreign Correspondents Club.
Aside from the work of others, McDermott’s own moody shots of the Siem Reap’s famous Angkor Wat ruins offer another perspective on, and only add to the experience of visiting, the temples themselves.
Daily, 12pm-8pm; Pokambor Avenue; 012-274-274; www.mcdermottgallery.com
This wooden house and lush tropical garden is the home and living gallery and workshop of Cambodian artist and designer Lim Muy Theam, born in the southern province of Takeo nine years before the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.
After seeking refuge and pursuing the arts in Paris, he returned to Cambodia to discover his motherland’s art and culture, he later founded Theam’s House as a way to showcase local talent and pass on his own learning and experiences to a new generation of Cambodian artists. The rooms of Theam’s House are home to his own pieces and those that form part of the collection he has amassed over the years, and include a range of artisan products that make for lovely souvenirs of a visit to Siem Reap.
Daily, 8am-9pm; Phum Veal Village; 078-208-161; www.theamshouse.com
Update: Full Frontal is now closed.
Another new addition to the local creative scene, and another Siem Reap art venue to combine that very much Baby-Elephant-approved formula of gallery and bar, Full Frontal is headed by Jessica Lim, a prominent name in the local Angkor Photo Festival.
Full Frontal also hosts poetry sessions, and is home to a collection of work by contemporary artists from Cambodia, wider Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
Monday to Saturday, 10am-10pm; Achar Sva Street; 095-930-090; www.facebook.com/fullfrontalgallery
The 1961 Coworking & Art Space
Update: The 1961 Coworking & Art Space is now closed.
This innovative and suitably stylishly designed venue takes a hybrid approach that sees it double up as an art gallery, coworking spot, and event space. The 1961’s art gallery side feature exhibitions showcasing the work of both local and international talent and covering a wide range of art genres.
A welcome addition to the Siem Reap creative scene, it’s a modern, fresh and every bit living venue that’s doing an admirable job of connecting with and becoming a part of the local community.
Daily, 7am-10pm; 211 Osaphear Street; 087-539-181; www.the1961.com
Where to stay in Siem Reap
Looking for a Siem Reap hotel from which to explore the best art galleries that Siem Reap has to offer, while also being within easy reach of the famous Angkor Wat temples? Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel is waiting for you – click here to take a look at our relaxing rooms, all with free breakfast and use of our gorgeous swimming pool.
Which of these Siem Reap art galleries is your favourite? Let us know which spots we should include on our list – leave us a comment below!
Photos by One Eleven, Mirage Collective, Batia Sarem, McDermott Gallery, Theam’s House, The 1961 Co-Working & Art Space, and Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel.