The announcement came as usual, by email. Subject: ‘ Pattaya’s hidden Gems, Chonburi province ‘. The program included a visit to The Museum of Buddhist Art Nongprue. The Siam Society was coming to Pattaya. Our city.
If you are a member of the Siam Society you get used to check your inbox, just waiting for the next news. In this way, we have been travelling to different provinces of Thailand following the track of Thai history, arts and religious arts. Impeccable and well organised, professional – guided trips. Always. With no exception. A privilege. And now they were coming to Pattaya. We’d be the hosts. What a delight. What a honour.
This is how we knew about the Museum of Buddhist Art Nongprue. The Siam Society has organised a trip to Pattaya. That was a wonderful news. We were going to receive them at home. Fantastic. Did we know which museum they were talking about? No. In Pattaya? No idea. It could be that being the hosts we wouldn’t know about it? NO. Google maps, looked for it, found the museum.
We went the following week. It was one of the greatest surprises that we had in a long time. And we didn’t have a clue that this museum existed in Pattaya. Shame on us.
We were received by the museum staff who very kindly show us the automatic doors to get into the museum. Still shocked at the sight of what we found inside, we couldn’t decide where to start. So we did the most logical thing: read the legends of each image, just to know which period it belongs and then, just begin the tour. We had a plan.
We also had a problem. We couldn’t find any legend.That was disappointing. How were we supposed to take pictures without knowing what we were looking at? Pity, such a beautiful museum, such wonderful collection of images and no one identification. What a pity. What a shame.
As if guessing what we were thinking, we heard a voice behind us: ‘ It would be easier if you look for an auricular and then, see at the entrance of each of the thematic rooms. You will find a QR Code sign attached to the wall. Just read it with your phone. It will link to our website. You will find the description of each room and what is exhibited there ‘… We just stayed frozen where we were standing, speechless, only thinking: This is amazing. Ultra modern. Shame on us.
Lesson learnt, we starting to roam the rooms. One after the other. In the order in which we found them: Rattanakhosin and Thonburi Arts, Ayutthaya Art, Dvaravati Art, Sukhothai Art, Lopburi and Kampuchean Art, Myanmar and Thai Lue Art, Lan Na Art, Lan Xang Art, Ban Chiang earthenware…Just amazing. Extraordinary.
Two hours and a half have already passed. We only had time for a quick look of each room. We can’t see properly all this in one visit, we concluded. We have to come back, which we did. Twice. One with the Siam Society group, and another, later, on our own.
On our second and third visits, we had the honour to count with an exceptional – enthusiastic knowledgeable guide who thrilled us with his hearty explanations. He explained in such easy manner how to recognise the historical period that each image belongs with only telling us the Buddha statues’ characteristics, different postures and subtle variations in the fold, texture, ornaments and the way in which the robes were wore. Brilliant.
Have we seen the Christianity room? No. The Srivijaya room? No. The Guan Yin Shrine? No. The Ganesha Temple? Another no. Have we finished looking with detailed attention all the Buddha’s images and statues? Not at all. There are more than 3,000 in the museum. We will be back.
We took hundreds of pictures, we enjoy of the fantastic explanations given in such a different way, we were told how to ‘ read ‘ those exhibited Buddha images, how they changed according to historical eras, kingdoms, even in the same Thai culture,
It is a different way of learning about Thai culture, religion and arts, and what is more important, you don’t have to travel all the way to Bangkok. Is it not just fantastic to have this opportunity here, in our own city?. Yes, as we like to say, Pattaya has much more than bars and nightlife to offer. This is proof enough.
Now, lets have a quick tour …
Thonburi and Rattanakosin Art
Myanmar and Thai Lue Art
Lan Na Art
Lan Xang Art
Ban Chiang Art
Impressive. And this is only a small sample, the tip of the iceberg. There is more, much more to see, to learn of. If you wish to have a detailed description of the different Art styles exhibited in the thematic rooms of the museum, please, visit our website: Learning about Thai History and Culture
I wish that you have enjoyed roaming into the different rooms, through different historical periods of Thai history, as we did.
Some tips now :
When you decide when you will go, it is a great idea to call or send a note to the museum in advance so they will be waiting for you. In this way, you will have the opportunity to have a guided tour.
If you wish to know more about the Siam Society and the benefits of became a member, please, visit our website: Learning about Thai History and Culture