Bangkok National Museum is situated on the banks of Thailand’s Chao Phraya River in Phra Nakhon district. Sandwiched between the Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace in the majestic and architecturally historic Front Palace (Wang Na). Built in 1782 it housed the Vice King’s residence until changes in hierarchy were made. After which the residency was used to display regional items of historical significance and antique collections that belonged to King Chulalongkorn’s (Rama V) Father, King Mongkut (Rama IV).
The first home of the museum was at the Concordia Pavilion within the grounds of the Grand Palace in 1874. In 1887 Rama V moved the antiquities to Wang Na. Over the next few years the landmark’s importance grew. In 1926 Wang Na officially become Bangkok’s Museum before being recognised as the country’s national museum in 1934 with oversight by the Fine Arts Department. Today one of the most revered tourist attractions in Thailand, symbolising the nation state.
The building of Wang Na is as extraordinary as its architecture, much like neighbouring countries in Asia is centred around Buddhism. An import from India centuries prior. It is the decorative nature of the Pagoda style roofing and the intricate gold embellishments and icons on the fascias that really grab the attention of visitors. This of course was a palace and with twelve large rooms worthy of hosting a nation’s heritage and artifacts.
Over the last two decades the 240-year-old building of Wang Na has been restored and is an ongoing process. Within the elaborately decorated Siwamokhaphiman Hall you will find the more recent story of Thailand in the Thai History Gallery. Of particular interest may be The King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription. The collections across the many rooms and buildings encompass a tranche of the Thai people’s story. Art, sculptures, clothing displays, and archaeological finds from the Dvaravati, Srivijaya, and Lopburi eras alongside a Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection showcasing traditional war artifacts and dress.
It’s important to understand why the Bangkok National Museum should be visited as one of the main tourist attractions. While the architecture of Wang Na is itself incredible, this is not replicated widely across the country. The remnants, statues and ruins, Wats and temples that you visit will be better understood by experiencing the country’s history at the National Museum. So as to provide a basis of learning and further discovery. Thailand’s National Museum allows you to unravel the intricate web of Thai history.
Photo credit: Sapunat Arunoprayote // Wikimedia // [link]