Chiang Mai's museums & art galleries

Posted on May 14, 2012 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Museum of the past: Wat Ket Karam


Chiang Mai is known for its art and culture, it's no surprise to find cool art galleries here, but I was esp. delighted to find two rather quaint museums that are off the beaten track. Apart from the Chiang Mai city arts & cultural centre, I never saw other visitors during my visits ( and hardly any staff for that matter), so overall it was a very unique experience:


Chiang Mai city arts & cultural centre - Established in 1997, this centre is located in a beautiful historical building constructed in 1924. It traces the history of Chiang Mai back to the ancient Lanna Kingdom; although its layout and concept is similar to Museum of Siam in Bangkok, it is not as detailed and well thought out. However, it is still worth a visit if you are interested in the history of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Philatelic Museum - located not far from the flower market, the 100-year old colonial building used to be a post office before being turned into a museum in 1990. I am not sure if many tourists would visit this museum, but it is rather quirky. I love how they have preserved the old communication tools as well as the furniture, walking around the museum made me feel like I was caught in a time warp. I also bought some beautiful sets of stamps ( which I will blog about in another entry), which are great as souvenirs for friends!



Wat Ket Karam Museum (also known as Uncle Jack's Museum) - I love this museum! I stumbled upon it while I was walking along Charoenrat Road. Located in the compound of the 15th century Wat Ket Karam temple, I was a bit hesitant before stepping in but once inside, I felt like I was transported to another era, it was just amazing...

Founded in 2001 by Jarin Bain or Uncle Jack ( who is over 90 years old now), this free museum only came about because its building ( a 100 year-old ex residence of the monks) was in danger of being demolished by the senior monks of the temple. Hence, Uncle Jack decided to self-finance and conserve the building as well as its contents and turned it into a community museum. With donations from the Wat Ket community and his antique dealer friend, Uncle Jack single-handedly created a mesmerising heritage treasure trove that is more personal and interesting than the official cultural centre!

The museum has a large collection of ancient Thai scripts and literature, artefacts, collectibles and a room full of old black and white photos of Chiang Mai. Wandering around the museum (alone), I felt like I was in an antique collector's house rather than a 'proper' museum. My only wish is that someone will  take over Uncle Jack's job when he is no longer around, someone who will dedicate as much time and care to this unique place...



Lanna Architecture Center  - this beautiful building in the city centre is now used as a research and exhibition center for Lanna architecture. The exhibits were not as interesting as the building itself, but it was still quite pleasant to wander around if you happen to be in the area.



On Charoenrat Road, there are many interesting art galleries, cafes and handicrafts shops. One of them is Comedara Art Gallery & restaurant, which is housed in a beautiful colonial building and exhibits artwork by local artists.



The 'hippest' area in Chiang Mai is Nimmanhaemin soi, where most cool shops, cafes and art galleries are located. I walked by Gallery SeeScape and was attracted by its laid back and accessible vibe. If only all galleries are as unpretentious as this...



This post was posted in Exhibitions, Travel, Chiang Mai, Art and was tagged with art and design exhibitions, Chiang Mai, Thailand