The largest museum in southeast Asia, Bangkok’s National Museum is home to an astounding collection or art and artefacts, some dating back to prehistoric times. The pieces housed in the former palace vividly document the changes in Thai art and history.
Opened in 1874, the National Museum covers Thai history from the modern day back to Neolithic times. The National Museum is on the former grounds of an 18th century palace, with some of the buildings being works of art in themselves – elaborately-decorated structures and traditional Thai architecture make a perfect backdrop for the stunning collections the palace houses.
The National Museum, opened in 1874, is the largest collection of Thai art and artefacts in the country. The collections are divided into three distinct parts – the gallery of Thai history, visual art and archaeology. The galleries house everything – weapons, gilded treasures, puppets, ceramics, textiles and clothing, musical instruments and jewellery are all on display. Key pieces to keep an eye out for include Inscription No. 1, a manuscript from the Sukhothai era that is regarded as Thailand’s first work of literature; the intricately-decorated carriages used for royal ceremonies; and Buddhaisawan Chapel, home to one of Thailand’s most revered Buddhist images. The ethnological collection features mostly Thai artefacts, but also pieces from around South-East Asia.
The Museum can be explored via a short boat ride to Chang Pier, or by catching bus numbers 15, 30, 39 or 123 to the west side of Sanam Luang. Depending on your level of interest, a visit could take anywhere from an hour to most of the day. The English labelling can be disappointing at times, so it’s best to take one of the guided tours, departing 9.30am on Wednesday and Thursday, or buy the printed information booklet when you enter the complex - there’s so much history held at the museum that it would be unjust to miss out. The Museum is right near the Grand Palace – spend a few hours at each site for a full day of history and culture.