Reviving Cultural Heritage in Old Town Phimai: Using Art and Culture to Develop the Community’s Economy
Phimai Heritage Trust and RMUTI
Phimai is renowned for its vast Phimai Historical Park, an impressive Khmer temple complex and one of Thailand's largest. This project aims to restore Old Town Phimai by promoting collaboration and fostering cultural entrepreneurship. At the heart of this endeavour is the Phimai Heritage Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Phimai's cultural heritage and addressing social and economic inequalities through the development of artistic and cultural assets.
Scholars specializing in heritage preservation have provided invaluable tools and methodologies, empowering the community to revive the city's cultural heritage. By emphasizing local identities and embracing indigenous knowledge, the project breathes new life into Phimai's rich heritage. A dedicated volunteer group actively collects cultural and natural heritage, creating valuable working archives in the form of cultural maps.
One of the key aspects of this initiative is the establishment of a local museum, serving as an educational site for tangible cultural heritage and a draw for tourists. Researchers disseminate knowledge through brochures, lectures, and exhibitions, raising awareness among local officials about the importance of preserving Phimai Old Town's precious wetland and preventing further construction of office buildings in this historically significant area.
Preserving local craft knowledge is of utmost importance, achieved through comprehensive training courses covering various traditional skills, such as constructing local dugout canoes and preparing the renowned Phimai noodle. By safeguarding these practices, the project ensures their continuity while fostering local pride and identity.
Looking ahead, the long-term vision encompasses cultural tourism initiatives managed by the Phimai Heritage Trust. Volunteers undergo extensive training to become knowledgeable local guides, leading educational tours that benefit both Phimai residents and visitors. These immersive experiences offer a unique opportunity to appreciate Phimai's abundant heritage and deepen cultural understanding.