In the past, you would have to force us to visit Thailand’s National Museum. For years, this repository of historical artifacts suffered from uninspiring exhibits and uninviting interiors. However, a major revamp, which introduced eight more exhibitions rooms, has made the prospect of admiring our national treasures more exciting. Here’s what you need to know about the newly renovated National Museum.
If you have a keen eye for detail, don’t miss Vasanphiman Residence Hall (upper floor). The room showcases the furniture that used to sit in the Front Palace (the residence of the viceroys) as well as a curious display of unusually shaped ivory. The highlight of the Residence Hall is a royal bed that belonged to King Pinklao and was relocated from Phra Tamnak Daeng, where King Pinklao lived when he was young. The hall also displays some very fine wood carvings.
If you have a thing for pottery, then you should check out Vasanphiman Hall on the ground floor. The space displays pottery from the royal court, one of which depicts a painted scene from Phra Apai Mani, an epic poem written by legendary Thai poet Sunthorn Phu.
If you have a limited amount of time, make a beeline for the carved masterpieces at Muk Dej. The wooden artwork includes the door of the famed Wat Suthat which was damaged by fire, and one of the very few circular pulpits left
Pritsadangkaphimuk Throne Hall exhibits a collection of howdahs or the seats strapped to the backs of elephants. Each seat features very fine patterns and shapes that identify whether it’s for women or to be used in battle.
Phrommetthada Hall on the ground floor is not to be missed either. The room displays a collection of inlaid mother-of-pearl works that once belonged to Prince Paribatra Sukhumbandhu of Nakhon Sawan. These are considered to be masterpieces in Thai inlay art, and are almost impossible to remake these days.
Phrommetthada Hall (upper floor) exhibits a wide range of Buddhist artifacts and implements, including fans that reveal the ranks of monks, ceremonial fans and Talipot fans. The artwork and collection of Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong, who's praised as “The Master of Thai Art,” are also featured in this hall.
Delve into the art history of Ayutthaya at the archaeological room of Ayutthaya art. Set in the museum’s Prapat Building, it displays artifacts and objet d’ arts from Ayutthaya, including the renowned scripture cabinet.
The archaeological room of early Rattanakosin art, meanwhile, features the royal bed of King Thonburi, and a gold-gilded folding chair King Rama I used in the battlefields during ancient wars.