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National Gallery of Bangkok, Religious Thai Art and More

The National Gallery of Bangkok combines the Art and History of Bangkok in one place. You will find it just a few minutes away from Phing Klao Bridge, close to Khao San Road in the old Royal Mint building.

The main collection focuses on national artists, starting in the 17th century up to the 21st century and work by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Without a significant knowledge of Thai art, fully understanding the permanent collection may be difficult. However, that is where your local guide will freed you from confusion. Your local guide will be able to explain the history and stories behind most of the works. Your guide will also be able to explain important facts behind the temporary, more modern exhibitions housed in the gardens and special collections building.

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The most enjoyable way to get to the National Gallery is by river taxi. The ride is a great experience with some spectacular sites to be seen along the embankment. You can take the express boat or the orange flag boat (recommended) and get off at Phra Athit Pier (N13), walk to the end of the road then turn left at Chao Fah Road. From there you continue walking for about 10 minutes. However your local guide will know the most convenient ways to get there.

Your local guide will take you to the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok is situated in the same compound as Jim Thompson House Museum
One cannot talk about Thai Art and History without mentioning an American. A man by the name of Jim Thompson, an American businessman and architect who arrived in Bangkok in the early fifties. It so happened that he was also an avid art collector and a lover of ancient Asian art and Thai Mutmee silks. Mutmee silks are an art by themselves. They are hand-woven by Thai villagers in individual patterns which can never be repeated or copied. There are many works of Mutmee silk to admire at the Jim Thompson house and also a wide selection you can purchase. Your personal guide will of course be by your side to advise you on price and quality.

Jim Thompson’s History

In 1958, he began building his home which was to become the Jim Thompson Museum. The man disappeared under very mysterious circumstances in 1967. He vanished while by himself on a walk in the Malaysian jungle and was never seen or heard of again. Your local guide will tell you much more details about this great man and you can see the great art collection and silk works when your guide takes you to the museum. There you can spend hours wondering at the beautiful Mutmee Thai silk and it would be a miracle if you could leave without buying a piece as a souvenir.

Religious Thai Art 

A lot of Thai art is religious and sculptural rather than paintings. There are a large number of Buddhist Temples spread all over the vast City, some of the biggest and most famous ones near the Royal Palace. The Bangkok Royal Palace in itself is worth a visit to marvel at ancient carvings and the elaborate Thai architecture. Your local guide will know when is a good time to visit the Royal Palace, since it can get very crowded with Tourists at certain times. 
Also be aware of the dress code when visiting such places of reference and worship. Your local guide will make sure that you’ll be wearing the appropriate clothing.

As mentioned before, a lot of Thai art is based on the countries religion, which of course is Buddhism. Do not attempt to purchase any ancient artifacts anywhere. To start, they are most likely fake and if they are not, you can run into a world of problems if you try to leave Thailand with any real ancient artifacts in your luggage. There are very strict rules which your local guide will explain to you. He/she also knows the right government office to ask, if you really like a piece but are not sure if it would be legal to take home with you.

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