Renowned as an iconic venue that was graced by the likes of Somerset Maugham, Bangkok’s most prolific silk museum is as legendary as its founder and namesake, millionaire visionary, Jim Thompson. Having served as the luxurious residence of the expatriate turned local hero for years, the traditional Thai style venue is anything but an austere museum with archaic artefacts. Instead it is a wooden wonderland of rich colours and textures complete with the homely feel of a one of a kind private residence. Popular across the nation for its influence on the Thai silk trade, the museum is equally associated with the controversial lifestyle of its founder and chief occupant, whose mysterious disappearance remains unsolved to this day.
As an eclectic combination of six Thai houses, the former home of James H.W. Thompson is a teak marvel that comprises of components that were brought in from various areas around Thailand. Assembled in the 1950’s, the museum structure’s main elements were transported on barges from villages across the country before being reassembled in Bangkok. Famed for its architectural identity and priceless contents, the sheer volume of antiques within the premises is enough to warrant exploration.
Some of the highlights include a drawing room dating back to the 19th century brought over from silk weaving hub Ban Krua as well as a crystal chandelier that once adorned a royal residence. Structures originating from Pak Hai and Ayutthaya are equally impressive while the many antiques and collectibles acquired by Jim Thompson over the years include exquisite paintings, porcelain figures, statues and other Southeast Asian cultural relics.
Visitors to the Jim Thompson House can also get an in-depth look into the life and times of the silk pioneer and his flamboyant lifestyle, while examining the attention to detail in his most stunning silk creations. Fabrics as well as other items in vibrant silk hues are also available at the museum for those interested in taking home a valuable souvenir.