Bangkok: The first ever UNESCO exhibition on global underwater cultural heritage to be held in the Asia-Pacific region will be staged in central Bangkok this month.
The showcase, titled "Saving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage," will be officially opened at 1.30 p.m. on 16 August 2010 at Siam Ocean World Bangkok, on the B1-B2 floors of Siam Paragon shopping centre.
Visitors will journey through stunning underwater heritage scenes from around the world displayed in large format photographs; view a lifesize-scale replica of a Thai shipwreck; explore a showcase of discoveries recovered from the seabed; and enjoy special demonstrations of underwater archaeologists in action in the aquarium tank.
Various interactive play zones will give children the opportunity to experience life as a junior archaeologist.
UNESCO is seeking cooperation from the general public to help fight the trade in underwater cultural heritage and protect our marine environment for generations to come.
Illegal treasure hunting is the biggest threat to our global marine heritage. Over three million shipwrecks and other underwater sites are at risk from treasure hunters who loot the sites to sell artefacts on the black market.
Director of UNESCO Bangkok, Dr Gwang-Jo Kim, said "UNESCO calls upon countries to cooperate to protect the underwater cultural heritage in order for us to pass it on to the next generations to come."
Thai Minister of Culture, HE Nipit Intrasombat, has been invited to co-preside over the launch, along with the Director of UNESCO Bangkok, Dr Gwang Jo-Kim.
Senior officials from Thai Fine Arts Department, along with representatives of the diplomatic corps, museums and professional dive associations have been invited to the opening ceremony.
The exhibition is expected to attract over 150,000 local and foreign visitors during its run until 31 October 2010.
The event is a partnership between UNESCO Bangkok, the Thai Fine Arts Department, and Siam Ocean World Bangkok.
Siam Ocean World Bangkok Deputy General Manager, Mr Ross Werner, said "Siam Ocean World is very pleased to have the opportunity to be the co-sponsor of the exhibition 'Saving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage'. This is a good occasion for children and the public to understand and learn the importance of the marine environmental conservation along with enjoying Siam Ocean World various types of aquatic animals."
The exhibition is part of a regional programme which established the first training centre in underwater cultural heritage in Asia Pacific in Thailand's Chanthaburi province. The project is supported by the Government of Norway.
In order to strengthen the protection of underwater cultural heritage, UNESCO in 2001 established an international treaty, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
"There are many sunken wrecks scattered in Thai waters. I'm hoping that this exhibit in Thailand will engage many Thai people to help in protecting our precious underwater cultural heritage," said Mr Erbprem Vatcharangkul, Director of the Underwater Archaeology Division of the Fine Arts Department.
The Underwater Archaeology Division will take the exhibit on tour as a travelling exhibit around Thailand in November 2010. The exhibit will eventually become part of the permanent collection of the National Maritime Museum in Chanthaburi province.
Note: The registration for journalists and guests will start at 1:00 p.m. on 16 August 2010 at the foyer of the Siam Ocean World Bangkok Aquarium. An info kit will be distributed to media representatives attending the opening ceremony. This will provide detailed information about the exhibit and the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.