Originally the site of the palace of Lord Phrachao Suriyaphong Pharidet, last ruler of Nan, the spot was converted to fill the role of first town hall of Nan upon its assimilation into the kingdom of Siam in 1932.
In 1974, even though the town was still officially off limits to visitors, it realised its current incarnation as the Nan National Museum. It is an attractive building and indeed the two floors of interior displays are better than most provincial museums.
As of late 2015 when we passed through a complete makeover was in progress so we’re not sure how the final layout will appear, but last time we visited the ground floor concentrated on local ethnic groups: Tai Lue, H’tin, Khamu, Yao and Hmong culture and handicrafts, while the second storey housed archaeological and historical finds dating right back to Neolithic times, through its independent city state period, up until Nan’s incorporation into Siam. Its prize possession and something of a Nan icon is an ancient, nearly metre long, black elephant tusk, which used to belong to one of the city’s earliest rulers. According to signs outside the museum is due to re-open, in theory, in February 2016. (Staff at Nan Guesthouse reckoned it will be more like September though.)
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 27th January, 2016.