Along with the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, a second secret sight to see in Bangkok is the Art and Culture Center. This is a massive, contemporary art museum conveniently located in Siam Square. It is refreshing to see, anywhere, a huge complex dedicated to art in a prominent location. Though I will never claim to understand all the art you may come across at such a museum, I think it is important to support and for visitors to see what is cutting edge in a culture.
While photos aren’t allowed in exhibit spaces, you can see that this is a very large building, nine stories tall, with the upper floors designed like the MOMA in New York. The art was fabulous including exhibits by artists from Singapore, China, Thailand, a joint Thai-Belgian collaboration, and a recently closed breast cancer awareness photo exhibit by the Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. All of the galleries displayed the pieces excellently and the art itself was world class.
Visiting the museum doesn’t take long and while you are there you can see what the artists on the cutting edge of Asia think about their lives, governments and societies. Be prepared to see glimpses into societal disharmonies that would be taboo to mention in the artists’ home countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand itself. This museum does a great job at allowing artists to be artists and does not appear to be censoring messages.
A key feature of the museum is that there is publicly accessible, non-museum operated, stores, studios, and artisans contained within the Cultural Center. This makes the Art and Culture Center more than a museum, rather a living, breathing place where art can be experienced rather than just looked at. A key store to visit is iceDEA where a local ice cream designer builds custom ice cream art pieces for people to enjoy. Or, you can learn how to be a mime…
IF YOU GO:
- It’s convenient. Take any bus, SkyTrain or taxi to Siam Square. It is accessible from the SkyTrain station platform, directly across the street from the MBK shopping center.
- It’s inexpensive. Many, if not all, exhibits are free, which is a nice respite from Bangkok.
- It’s airconditioned. A couple days in Bangkok and you will want to spend a couple hours in an airconditioned place like this.
More information is available on the Bangkok Art and Culture Center website.