Bangkok National Museum
The Bangkok National Museum (Thai: พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ พระนคร) is the main branch museum of the National Museums in Thailand and also the largest museum in Southeast Asia. It features exhibits of Thai art and history. The museum is located in 4 Na Phra That, Bangkok 10200, Thailand, occupying the former palace of the vice king (or Front Palace), set between Thammasat University, and the National Theater, facing Sanam Luang.
The museum was established and opened in 1874 by King Rama V to exhibit relics from the rule of King Rama IV's rule. Today the galleries contain exhibits covering Thai History back to Neolithic times. The collection includes The King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription, which was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 2003 in recognition of its world significance.
Other than preserving and displaying Thai artifacts dated from Dvaravati, Srivijaya, to Sukhothai and Ayutthaya period, the museum also displaying extensive collections of regional Asian Buddhist Arts such as Indian Gandhara, Chinese Tang, Vietnamese Cham, Indonesian Java, and Cambodian Khmer arts.
Bangkok National Museum was originally established by King Rama V around the private collection of antiquities of his father King Rama IV (Mongkut).The National Museum is located in the grounds of the former Wang Na, the 'front palace' which was built for the vice king, a sort of crown prince (Thailand has no law of primogeniture. The king traditionally named his own successor, who was often his brother rather than his son.) The post was eliminated by Rama IV and the National Museum was set up in the former palace in 1887.
The National Museum is the first public museum of Thailand. The historic background of the Bangkok National museum goes back to the year 1859, in the reign of King Rama IV. The King has set his private inside the Grand Palace to collect the objects, artifacts which were a tribute of him.
In 1874, His Majesty, King Rama V ordered to establish the first public museum at the Concordia Pavilion inside the Grand Palace to exhibit the royal collection of King Rama IV, and other objects of general interest. The opening ceremony of Concordia Museum was on 19 September 1874, and the Fine Arts Department has marked that day as the birth of the first National Museum of Thailand.
In 1887, King Rama V ordered to move the museum from Concordia to the front palace, and called it "Wang Na Museum" or front palace museum.
In 1926, it was named the "Bangkok Museum" and subsequently developed into the Bangkok National Museum, when it came under the direction of
the Department of Fine Arts in 1934.
The National Museum Bangkok currently houses three permanent exhibition galleries.
- The Thai History Gallery located in the front of the Siwamokhaphiman Hall, a ceremonial building. At the first part of the hall display The King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription, which was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 2003. Also the auditorium room at the left of the hall’s gate showing the document in the topic Where are Thai come from? Furthermore, the hall display the exhibitions about Thai history since the prehistory period until the Bangkok period including the historical facts and the ancient things which are kept until today.
- The Archaeological and Art History Collections which are provided in two parts
- The Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection which is displayed in the old central palace buildings. This collection contains a variety of artistic, cultural and ethnographic exhibits such as gold treasures and precious stones, mother of pearl inlay, royal emblems and insignia, costumes and textiles, ceramics, carved ivory, old royal transportation, old weapons and musical instruments.
There are three main exhibition halls in the museum:
- Siwamokhaphiman Hall - This building was built when the Prince Successor to King Rama I, MahaSurasinghanat, built the Palace of the Prince Successor. Originally used as an Audience Hall, it now houses the Thai History Gallery.
- Buddhaisawan Chapel - The chapel was built in 1787 to house the important Buddha image, PhraBuddhasihing which is the important Buddha image that the people like to pour water on it in Songkran festival. Inside the chapel, the mural paintings depict scenes from the life of the Buddha.
- The Red House - This teak house was originally one of the private living quarters of Princess Sri Sudarak, the elder sister of King Rama I. It was moved from the old palace in Thonburi to the Grand Palace for Queen Sri Suriyen, wife of King Rama II. Today the Red House is furnished in the early Bangkok period style which can show Thai people’s lifestyle in the past with some of the objects which once belonged to Queen Sri Suriyen.
The Bangkok National Museum is generally open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except on national holidays.
The National Museum Volunteers offer foreign language tours of the museum. All tours begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays only. Tours are held in English, German, French and Japanese. All scheduled guided tours are free, but the museum entrance fee for non-Thai people is 200 Baht (6.02 USD).
- "National Museum". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
- "The King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription". UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- "National Museum". Asia for Visitors. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
- "Bangkok National Museum". Thailand Museum Department of Fine Arts. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
- Lenzi, Iola (2004). Museums of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Archipelago Press. pp. 200 pages. ISBN 981-4068-96-9.
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