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Museums of Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok City has many museums exhibit some of the most sublime, and strangest, collections of relics you can imagine, giving visitors a wonderful insight into Thailand's colourful culture and unique heritage.
The Ancient City
Set in 320 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the outskirts of Bangkok, its success or failure in this lofty ambition is not clear. What is, however, is that it succeeds at preserving Thailand's singular heritage, its wonderful art, customs and culture for future generations.
M.R. Kukrit's Home
Thailand's Prime Minister from 1974 to 1975, M.R. Kukrit Pramoj and his beautiful home on Soi Suan Phlu were often the focus of national politics during times of turbulence, with journalists flocking outside. Today, thanks to the Kukrit 80 Foundation, it's the public who now flock to see the elegant home of this intellectual leader.
More than a museum, it's a testament to his talents not only as politician, but also poet, writer and artist. Its five traditional teak houses on stilts were painstakingly assembled under his supervision, a process that took over 20 years.
Bank of Thailand Museum
A museum dedicated to one of the most staid professions known to mankind may not seem a compelling way to spend an afternoon. That said, The Bank of Thailand Museum, leads visitors on an intriguing and interesting jaunt through monetary evolution in Thailand.
Children's Discovery Museum
Visit to this museum destroys all preconceived notions of a museum as a mothball-reeking, dead quiet place with 'do not touch' signs everywhere. Bangkok's Children Discovery Museum actually encourages a hands-on approach to learning. By presenting interactive displays, it calls on a 'discovery learning process', whereby children enter the experience and participate in the process of learning.
A huge, three-headed elephant statue standing upon an equally gargantuan pedestal is the first, and last, thing you see when visiting Samut Prakan's Erawan Museum. It's a splendid, towering beast: 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, and cast in a pure green-hued copper. From conception to completion it took almost ten years to construct. With a proud, war-like demeanor and trunks the size of ancient Banyan Trees, this is an epic image of Hindu mythology's Airavata.
Bangkok National Museum
In the former grounds of the 18th Century Wang Na Palace, The National Museum houses the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country. It's definitely worth a visit, especially if visiting nearby Wat Phra Keow or the Grand Palace.
Suan Pakkad Palace
A place to find visions of Thailand you thought long since vanished in Bangkok. Its name means 'cabbage patch', in reference to when the land was nothing more than that. Today, however, it's much as it has been for over 50 years: a well-tended tropical garden with serene ponds surrounding eight traditional Thai houses, each of which brims to overflowing with fine arts, antiquities and oddities belonging to Prince and Princess Chumbhot.
Bangkok Folk Museum
Situated not far from the Central Post Office, the Bangkok Folk Museum is a typical Bangkok family house, the only difference being that this one is typical of over 70 years ago. Together its interiors and original household items, including traditional household utensils and items of ceremonial significance, present a 'living scenario of middleclass Bangkok citizens in the period of World War II'.
Situated on Mahachai Road, the Corrections Museum is the place to learn about the gruesome punishments meted out to offenders in Thailand in the not so distant past. It was once the site of the Bangkok Remand Prison, an old and overcrowded penal facility located in the heart of Bangkok. In 1990, the cabinet relocated it to Lad-yao and turned the site into a public park called Rommani Nart. Three blocks, a cellblock, a side of the prison wall and two watchtowers were preserved, and converted into this Museum of the macabre.
Preserved corpses of convicted killers, like Thailand's most famous mass murderer See-Uey, the Chinese cannibal, are exhibited alongside murder weapons, a gut-wrenching exhibition of autopsy photos and glass jars containing stillborn children pickled in formaldehyde. It's close to the museums of parasitology, medical history, and anthropology. The Museum of Anatomy next door, housed in an old 1930's building, contains a close-up and personal look at the human body.
House of Museums
Slightly barmy, and yet somehow totally inspired idea behind the House of Museums is that the everyday objects of today, will very soon become fascinating relics from the past. Founder Anek Nawikmool spent ten years buying, begging, hording and rescuing little pieces of Bangkok's now and near history before opening its doors.
Human Imagery Museum
Thai artist Duangkaew Phityakornsilp and his team spent over ten years painstakingly creating the eerily life-like wax and fibre-glass figures that appear at the Human Imagery Museum and depict, with astonishing realism, scenes from Thai life and culture. Included amongst representations of daily life are farm labourers, slaves, chess players, even a man reading a Thai newspaper.
Stilted 19th rice farmer's teak house transplanted from the banks of Chiang Mai's Ping River to Bangkok in 1964, Kamthieng House is now the headquarters of the the Siam Society - a place dedicated to preserving and promoting Thai culture and heritage.
Museum of Counterfeit Goods
Thailand has an inimitable knack for imitating things. Law firm Tilleke and Gibbins' Museum of Counterfeit Goods is further proof. Established in 1989, it exhibits piles of counterfeit goods accumulated over years of raids on behalf of clients. Prior to this, the goods, which are often used as evidence in court, had been stashed away in boxes, taking up precious storage space and serving no practical purpose whatsoever.
Housed in a former Royal Mint built during the reign of King Rama V, the National Gallery displays work by Thai artists from the 17th Century onwards. Inherited by the Department of Fine Arts in 1974, it includes permanent exhibitions of works by King Rama VI and H.M. King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, traditional murals from early periods in the capital's history, and pioneering Thai modern art.
Philatelic (Stamp) Museum
This is an essential stop for any budding stamp enthusiast in Bangkok. It shows how the postal service developed in Thailand, exhibiting Thai and foreign stamps dating back to 1881, when the first Thai stamps were made in London using woodblock prints. Stamps and accessories are available to buy at very reasonable prices. History and art enthusiasts may also enjoy it, but bring a magnifying glass: up close, each stamp is a paper-thin slice of history, and a miniature work of art.
Founder Prasart Vongsakul was so upset that many of his homeland's treasures were being sold abroad that he vowed to one day build a museum for the people. The result is this eclectic, ever so slightly eccentric assembly of buildings, all replicas of influential Thai palaces, houses and royal residences. Some date as far back as the Ayutthaya period.
Royal Barges Museum
Royal Barges reserved for auspicious ceremonies and state occasions like the very rare Royal Barge Procession.
Royal Thai Air Museum
Established in 1952 to preserve not only military aircraft, but also equipment from the beginning of aviation, the Royal Thai Air Force Museum displays one of the world's finest collections of rare and antique military aircraft.
Silpa Bhirasri Memorial & Museum
Memorial and museum at Silapakorn University is located in the building he not only lived, worked and taught in, but also designed. It maintains the original atmosphere, with paintings and sculptures as well as implements used on show. Works of several of his pupils are also displayed, including famous painters Fua Haripitak, Khien Yimsiri and Saway Tantisuk.
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