You might expect more
The National Gallery exhibits both traditional and contemporary art in a beautiful early 20th-century building that was originally built to be the Royal Mint.
Showing influences from cubism, impressionism and surrealism and created by Thai artists only, the contemporary art section is located on the ground floor to the left and right of the main entrance. This vicinity also hosts a hall of sculptures, from life-like busts of Thai historical figures to more playful forms. At time of writing, the Celebration Room features a collection of paintings by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Second-floor rooms displays traditional art including Western-style portraits of Thai kings and ancient Buddhist banners with the types of scenes that you might see in temple murals (the nearby National Museum houses a far more extensive collection of ancient religious art). With high ceilings, violet walls, broad archways and original wood floors, these second-floor halls almost overshadow the art displayed in them.
Stroll further back beyond a central courtyard with a coffee shop to find several more rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions. These were empty when we last passed through, and overall we were expecting a bit more from the official National Gallery for a country as large and creative as Thailand. Hopefully it will receive a makeover like the one that greatly improved the National Museum in 2016.
If you’re into old monetary currencies, the building’s original purpose is echoed next door at the Coin Museum.
From Khao San Road, take a left (south) at the west end on to Chakrabongse Rd, cross the street and keep right as the road bends west, and the National Gallery will be on your right. From Phra Arthit Pier, head west to the end of Phra Arthit Rd, turn left (southeast) and the Gallery will be on your left.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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