The National Museum
4 Na Phra That, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon
Situated not far from the Royal Palace and the Sanam Luang square in the center of Bangkok, the National Museum is one of the largest and the most important museums not only in Thailand, but in the whole Southeast Asia to boot. It houses an impressively large and valuable collection of historical artifacts, as well as examples of Thai art. Extremely interesting relics from early times to the modern era are gathered there. Visiting the Bangkok National Museum is probably the best way to learn about Thailand’s tough history, not to mention its rich cultural heritage.
The museum was first opened as an initiative of King Rama V in the year 1874. He had strived to preserve the original collections gathered by his father Rama IV. The museum’s first exhibits included the personal belongings of the Thai monarch, such as his stuffed animals and birds, which were brought in from Europe and North America, as well as numerous collections of rare minerals and skeletons of ancient animals.
In 1926, the significantly enlarged exposition moved to a new home, in the building of the former royal palace Wang Na, which was built by Rama I and has survived almost unchanged until now. The museum complex features several, stunningly beautiful, age-old buildings, including the so called Red House made from teak and the chapel of Buddhaisavan, built for the crown prince in the late 18th century. The Red House was once the palace of the princess Su Sudarok. Meanwhile, decorated with magnificent frescos, the chapel keeps one of the most valuable Buddhist relics of all – a statue of Buddha studded with jewels.
The National Museum’s exposition totals more than a thousand valuable exhibits, each of which belongs to a different historical period, stretching from the Neolithic Period to modernity. It is a unique collection of cultural goods, everyday items and interior furnishings, collected from the different provinces of Thailand. It stores royal regalia, religious and ceremonial artifacts, pottery, ancient games, collections of Chinese weapons, golden jewelry and precious stones, as well as the national musical instruments, a collection of national Khon masks, ethnic theatrical costumes, a collection of puppets and much more.
The collection of Buddha statuettes is worth a special mention and is located in complex’s newer buildings. A fascinating collection of royal funeral chariots, used for cremation ceremonies, is kept in the separate hall.
The National Museum complex features currency exchange offices, a souvenir shop, a restaurant and a library.
Excursions are carried out in the English, French, German, Chinese and Japanese languages.