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The National Gallery, housing both contemporary and traditional Thai art, is home to the best public collection in the kingdom.
The building itself is architecturally beautiful and was originally built to be the Royal Mint. Constructed in a Western style and completed in 1902, the building was heavily modelled after a factory in Birmingham, England. Housing both a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, The National Gallery offers quite a bit more than most of Bangkok's art museums and galleries.
The contemporary art section is located on the ground floor with exhibition rooms to the left and right of the main entrance. The artwork, all by Thai artists, shows influences from cubism, impressionism and surrealism. In The Celebration Room you will find works by King Rama VI and the current King Rama IX.
The upstairs rooms are dedicated to traditional Thai art, most being tempura paintings in the Bangkok style of the 19th century and the late Ayutthaya style of the 17th century.
The rooms across the courtyard are used for temporary exhibitions of Thai artists. There are usually one or two exhibitions there at any given time. Densely packed but still relatively small in size, a visit to the National Art Gallery should take between one and two hours.
How to get there
The closest pier is Tha Phra Athit (N13). The National Gallery is within easy walking distance of Khao San Road.