What are the top museums in Bangkok?

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Bangkok is home to a diverse range of museums that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage, history, and art. Bangkok’s museums provide insight into Thai culture and its unique heritage. Often overlooked, they are relatively inexpensive and should be placed in any traveler’s itinerary, especially the National Museum, but there are other unique institutions that may be of interest. Some of them are traditional homes that now stand as examples of local architecture, displaying artifacts of cultural or historical significance, like the Jim Thompson House.

Here are some of the top museums in Bangkok:

1. The National Museum

The Bangkok National Museum displays Thailand’s largest collection of local art and artifacts. Founded by King Rama V, the museum occupies the former 18th-century Wang Na Palace in Phra Nakhon. It’s within walking distance of Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace, so you can easily combine a day trip to these spots while in Bangkok. Exhibits are arranged into 3 areas consistent with Thai history, with good English descriptions available.

2. Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)

Many compare this culture center to the New York Guggenheim. It is exquisitely built with a central atrium that is surrounded by nine floors. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is a popular hangout for students and young people. The museum is filled with creative arts and is home to a very large assortment of pieces from Thai artists as well as artists from around the world. Art mediums include paintings, photographs, sculptures, and modern art. One of the best things about this museum is that they host movie screenings, musical performances, and kids’ programs. Admission is free and some of the exhibits even offer free guided tours so you do not miss a thing while here. Drop by the small shops found on each of the nine levels for souvenirs and gift ideas such as postcards, jewelry, and small drawings, paintings, or sculptures.

3. Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House is the former home of the late James H.W. Thompson, an American businessman who dedicated over 30 years of his life to reviving Thai silk in the 1950s. The lovely garden-enclosed compound sits on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal and houses 6 traditional Thai teakwood houses transported from Ayutthaya and Ban Krua Silk Village. It’s a museum and art center showcasing Thompson’s collection of Asian antiques and Thai silk.

4. Museum of Siam

The Museum of Siam occupies a very large neoclassical house near Wat Pho. It’s definitely not the usual display of historical artifacts and dusty mannequins you’d expect to find in such an antique building – wooden stairs, ceramic tiles, and old-fashioned columns contrast with resolutely modern art. From room to room, ‘The Roong’ transports you through all things Thai, from the very beginning of Ayutthaya to the daily life and highlights of Thai history, wars, Buddhism, and finally the rapid entry into the modern world.

5. Bangkok National Museum of Royal Barges

The Bangkok National Museum or the Royal Museum is the first museum in Thailand built in 1887 and located in Boworn Sathan Mongkol Mansion or Wang Na (Front Palace) in the Phra Nakhon district. It is a museum of History, art, archaeology, and ethnology. The exhibitions are organized in 4 categories which are Thai national history, art history and archaeology, Thai minor arts and ethnology, and Wang Na ruins.

6. Siriraj Medical Museum

The Siriraj Medical Museum, also known as the Museum of Death, is one of the museums located within the Siriraj Hospital complex in Bangkok, Thailand. This particular museum is famous for its collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, providing a unique and educational experience for visitors. The Museum of Death is divided into several sections, each showcasing different aspects of medical science and pathology.

7. Bangkokian Museum

The Bangkokian Museum is a simple, discreet museum in Bangrak but the charm is in the pleasure of discovering this small frozen-in-time gem. The complex, sometimes called ‘Bangkok Folk Museum’, consists mostly of 2 beautifully preserved wooden houses dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s. You can get in for free by writing down your name on the museum’s guestbook.

8. Erawan Museum

Begin your journey at The Erawan Museum Bangkok by walking around its many interesting areas where you’ll have the chance to explore plenty of valuable historical exhibitions. At the museum, you will find significant exhibits that go back to various eras of history. There are some treasured artifacts that are from ancient history like stone tools, pottery vessels, metal objects such as weapons, and items of personal adornment. Afterward, it will be a great choice to swing by the section of the museum that’s allocated to highlighting and explaining the renowned history of the country through a collection of interesting exhibits. And to get even further into the culture of the ancient residents, we advise you to check out the handicraft section where you’ll have the opportunity to find a number collection of wonderful handicraft works such as clay pots.

9. Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall

Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall is dedicated to the history of Bangkok’s royal city, locally known as Rattanakosin Island. Through 9 display rooms showcasing a series of film, music, and computer displays, the museum’s Nitas Rattanakosin exhibit conveys stories in many aspects of the Rattanakosin era. An observation room and café occupy the top floor, where you can enjoy great views of the Wat Saket, Queen Sirikit Gallery, and King Prajadhipok Museum.

10. Museum of Buddhist Art

This museum, located within the grounds of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), exhibits a wide array of Buddhist artifacts and art pieces, including statues, paintings, and religious objects. Housed in a striking granite building in the north of Bangkok, the Museum of Contemporary Art Bangkok (MOCA) is dedicated to the new era of non-traditional Thai art inspired by Buddhism. Spread out across five floors, the 20,000-square-metre exhibition space makes it the largest art museum in Bangkok. The museum exhibits paintings by national artists including Chalermchai Kositpipat, Panya Vijinthanasarn, and the late Thawan Duchanee.

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