While many Thai cities have their own provincial museums, Ubon’s is particularly comprehensive and compelling.
History buffs should be sure to start their explorations here.
The attractive European-style brick-and-cement building was constructed in 1918 and served as Ubon’s city hall for several decades before being repurposed into the National Museum in 1983. It features beautifully restored hardwood floors and dark-green louvred shutters complementing a cream-yellow exterior, with hallways surrounding a pair of small garden courtyards in the centre. Visitors start to the left, working their way around the various display rooms.
After an extensive exhibit on the geography and geology of the Isaan plateau, a pair of large rooms takes you from Ubon’s prehistory, when hunter-gatherers lived in the area, into the Dvaravati period from the fifth to 10th centuries and an era of Khmer rule from around the 10th to 13th centuries. Accompanied by comprehensible English info, the rooms exhibit some exquisite pottery, engravings and religious statuary from these cultures.
Visitors are then introduced to the Thai/Lao civilisation that took hold in the 18th century, with several interesting round-faced Buddha images done in the Lao style. The final three rooms cover local textiles, music, crafts and explanations of Ubon’s administration over the centuries, including antique thrones and lacquer cabinets used by the aristocracy around the turn of the 20th century.
How to get there
The National Museum is located just south of the City Pillar shrine and Thung Si Muang Park off Khuan Thani Rd. If the gate on Khuan Thani across from Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram is locked, take a few steps north and hang a right towards the City Pillar shrine, and you’ll see the museum’s main (but rather hidden) entrance on the right.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th July, 2015.