The Chiang Mai National Museum is a regional museum dedicated to the Northern part of Thailand. Its exhibits and displays concentrate on the preservation of art and culture of Chiang Mai, the Upper Northern Thailand regions and the historical kingdom of Lan Na.
The museum has a large collection of over 1 million displays to see, but the place is rather compact. An introduction to the art, culture and history of Northern Thailand is recommended to visitors who want to further appreciate the museum in its totality. The museum is divided into 6 galleries: the cultural background of Lan Na; the thorough Lan Na History; the History of Chiang Mai under the Kingdom of Siam; the old Lan Na Kingdom’s trade and economy; social, agricultural and educational development as well as international relations; and the styles of Lan Na art and the history of Thailand’s art.
The first gallery contains a geographical and ecological history of the Lan Na Kingdom, which includes preserved photographs of archaeological sites as recent as year 1956. Tools formed using river pebbles suggest the existence of prehistoric civilization almost 500,000 years ago. Exhibits of iron and bronze tools, pottery, ornaments, clothing and jewelry show the development of culture through the millenniums. The Buddhist Kingdom of Hariphunchair as the first state developed in the 7th Century in Northern Thailand can also be seen.
Details of the history of Lan Na can be viewed at the second gallery along with the origin of Chiang Mai back in 1296. The kingdom was known to be very wealthy due to the trade routes extending from China and Burma. Buddhism flourished in this era with plenty of bronze and glass images of Buddha. Lan Na ceramics were made of high quality mostly for domestic and religious use. These were often traded in exchange for rice, salt and other forest products.
Chiang Mai being under the influence of the Kingdom of Siam encompasses the third gallery. Chiang Mai was re-established by Rama 1 and was assisted in terms of politics, administration and the renewal of Lan Na. By 1939, Chiang Mai was under the rule of the central government of Thailand. The fourth gallery depicts the trade and economic development of the Lan Na Kingdom with the opening of the railway, opening of banking and investment businesses and the influx of traders to develop further industries.
Following the last gallery, the fifth gallery shows details about the social development of Chiang Mai with examples of its arts, crafts, weaving and lacquer ware. Finally, the sixth gallery is dedicated to the development of the Lan Na art and the influence of other artistic cultures.
Along with the Trial Museum located nearby, the museum can be viewed and finished in half a day. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. An admission fee of 30 baht for every person is charged. The Chiang Mai National Museum can certainly attest to the prolific and rich cultural heritage of not only the Northern Thailand region but to the entire country as well.