War Museum & Art Gallery

War Museum & Art Gallery

A bizarre tangle of relics

More on Kanchanaburi

Opened in 1987 within view of the Death Railway Bridge, the War Museum and Art Gallery attempts to blend Second World War history with Thai history—but doesn’t do a very good job of either—still, you’ll find plenty to gawk at for just 40 baht, including a fine river vista from the roof.

Travelfish says:

A Second World War-era locomotive fronts the sprawling museum, and a Vietnam War-era helicopter sits out back near a pyramid-shaped chedi with ceramic plates built into the concrete. Rusted bombshells stand beside traditional Thai statuary near hundreds of old guns from various periods. Fronting that is a tasteless set of statues depicting key leaders from the Second World War; the info accompanying Hitler doesn’t even mention the Holocaust.

Wartime biking. : David Luekens.
Wartime biking. Photo: David Luekens

Wander further back to find faded photos of POWs and Japanese soldiers taken during the construction of the Death Railway—these are interesting but you’ll find a better collection at the JEATH War Museum. Then comes another set of concrete statues that attempt, poorly, to depict the anguish of POWs. This wing also displays motorcycles and other vehicles used during the war.

Another large building houses more ancient weapons, a Hindu/Buddhist shrine, murals showing scenes from Siamese history and portraits of every Siamese/Thai king going back to the Ayutthaya period. The English info takes a heavily nationalist approach to Thai history and should be ignored. Do however take notice of the statues of Thai warriors protruding from the outer walls.

The collection is ... unusual. : David Luekens.
The collection is ... unusual. Photo: David Luekens

Despite the questionable information and dusty appearance, the museum is a fun place to poke around and the upper floor offers a view of the Death Railway Bridge. From there you can also look south to a Japanese memorial and garden.

Note that many of the signs for this museum say JEATH Museum, but the real JEATH War Museum is located at the south end of town.

Contact details for War Museum & Art Gallery

Address: Just south of the Death Railway Bridge on Mae Nam Khwae Rd. Kanchanacuri
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º30'17.89" E, 14º2'29.55" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 40 baht

Reviewed by

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.

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