When people arrive in Bangkok, there’s this big assumption that legitimate Thai art will be hard to find because in a cosmopolitan city, most of the emphasis when it comes to aesthetics is skewed towards modernist and minimalist principles. The beauty of Bangkok, however, is that Thai culture has always made sure to incorporate at least a contemporary rendering of its ancient, definitive aesthetic on its architecture and in the art that people can go see in the museums.
If you are interested to see both ancient and modern renditions of the Thai style, visit the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, which has been used to welcome visiting royalty and dignitaries in years past. The entire place is a piece of art, with fresco paintings depicting the Chakri dynasty’s successes in a mix of Italian and Thai styles, as well as different walls having specific royal monograms or emblems, while the floors are made of hand-sculpted Italian marble. The entire building itself is in the Neoclassical Italian style and was built by two Italian artists for King Rama V.
The throne hall has a museum inside that the Thais are very proud of. Hundreds of different handicrafts, paintings, and sculptures all done with strict stylistic adherence to the Thai style are showcased in this museum. A pinnacle of Thai opulence and luxury, the exquisite works of art are made by underprivileged villagers from the Thai countryside who studied as artisans under the Thai Queen’s SUPPORT Training Center, giving these marginalized artists a livelihood while encouraging the continuation of the traditional Thai art style.
Inside the museum are ten major masterpieces that exemplify the crème de la crème of traditional Thai artwork and craftsmanship. For many of the Thais, especially those who live in Bangkok, the caliber of the pieces shown in the museum is definitely the most excellent in almost all of Thailand.
City tours within Bangkok typically offer a trip to this museum as part of a general art-related tour, including a temple called Wat Rajpobit, which is made with exquisite craftsmanship.