Foreign visitors to Bangkok wishing to get a grasp of Thai history and culture should definitely make a point of visiting three museums in Bangkok. These museums together represent Thailand’s past and also give a good representation of the country’s present. From the expected to the unexpected, Bangkok’s top three museums are worth a visit.
Bangkok National Museum
This is what you’d expect to find when looking for a museum devoted to the country’s ancient to recently-past history. But the sheer beauty and organisation of this museum will impress you nonetheless. Free English-language guided tours are given daily. Tours in the French and Japanese languages are offered on Wednesdays, and tours in the German language are offered on Thursdays.
The museum is divided into three periods in Thai history. It’s packed with a well-organised display of Royal gifts, samples of Thai architecture, precious stones and gold treasures as well as puppets, textiles, ceramics and handicrafts from all over Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Museum of Siam
Set inside a neoclassical house, this museum is a definite surprise as it marries classical architecture with modern technology. It offers a multi-media journey that begins in ancient Ayutthaya and ends in modern Thailand.
This museum doesn’t try to hide the western influences on Thai culture throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. It simply and beautifully shows Thailand in all its glory as the western influences were adapted to a Thai lifestyle and aesthetic.
MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
A bit out of the way up near Kasetsart University, MOCA is nevertheless well worth a visit. This 5-story, purpose-built museum\art gallery is devoted to the development of art beginning from when the country’s artists first were taught the principles of contemporary art.
All of the pieces on display are from the collection of communications magnate Boonchai Bencharongkul, and they display themes that include those that are traditionally taboo in Thai culture. Topics such as corruption, religion, prostitution and the erosion of traditional values in Thai society are beautifully and thoughtfully represented. The museum offers a fresh take on the Thai culture as seen through the eyes of native artists.