The National Museum in Thailand is located in Nah Phrathat Road in Bangkok. It lies within the grounds of Wang Na Palace or the “Front Palace”. It was built by King Rama V to originally house the vast collection of antiques of his father, King (Mongkut) Rama IV. In the early days, the bits and pieces of arts contained in the museum were disorganized and any kind of pattern in the arrangement and display lay-out was hard to distinguish. Nowadays, however, the museum is professionally maintained and is organized into sections following a clear predominant subject.
The first section of the National Museum contains evidence of early Thai civilizations dating from the Stone Age and relics discovered from Lampang and Mae Hong Son in Northern Thailand and from Krabi in the South. There were also relics from 3,600 BC discovered in Ban Chiang, Udorn Thani, Kanchanaburi and Chonburi.
The next section of the museum contains artifacts and relics spanning from the 7th to 13th Centuries during the Khmer period. The Khmer empire now rules from Cambodia but their influence remained in the Northern parts of the country. The next sections of the museum display relics and artifacts from the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Chakri, Rattanakosin to the modern kingdoms of Thailand.
Building Structures within the National Museum Compound
The Phra Thinung Phutthaisawan. Standing next to the museum is the Phra Thinung Phutthaisawan temple. A private temple containing a copy of the popular and well-loved Phra Singh Buddha image that’s also found in other temples of Thailand. The Buddha statue, commonly installed at the back, far wall of a temple, is actually at the center of this temple.
The Issaravinitchai Throne Hall. This hall, found behind the chapel, is used for special occasions. The hall showcases artifacts of different kinds. There are musical instruments, military weapons and clothing of the early Thai people.
The Tamnak Daeng or the “Red House“. The Red House is found at the back area of the compound. This house was built for and used to be the home of the elder sister of King Rama I, Princess Sri Sudarak. It is made of red teak wood and was originally constructed at the Grand Palace in 18th century. Later, it was moved to the Thonburi Palace and then to the Wang Na Palace.
The Ceremonial Chariots Gallery. Found at the front area of the compound is a modern building housing the ceremonial chariots used solely for royal cremations. The casket of the last monarch who died and used the chariots is still on display in the gallery.
Opening Hours. The National Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Free guided tours are available at 9:30 am: on Wednesdays, English, French and Japanese tours and on Thursdays, English, French and German tours.
How to Get There. Getting to the National Museum is easy by boat. You can either get off from the Chang Pier or at the Banglampoo Pier. It is near the Grand Palace and within walking distance from the piers.