Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Bangkok Art And Cultural Centre

The Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre from a spot by the National Stadium BTS station. It's linked to by walkway to the 3rd floor entrance

Sitting in the midst of as frantic a commercial shopping area a tourist is ever likely to visit in Bangkok is a spot where you can escape both the crowds and the heat of the day: the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center, located across from the MBK and Siam Discovery shopping malls at the large Pathumwan intersection.

It's open every day but Monday from 10:00am to 9:00pm and - other than the occasional special event or concert - admission and all of the exhibits are free. I owe a good friend a tip of the hat for this one, as he was the first person I knew to talk about it. I've been there a few different trips, and since the exhibits are displayed on a rotating basis there's always a lot to see.

With its simple artistic rounded front and gracefully curved interior that reminded me somewhat of the Guggenheim museum in New York City it looked a little out of place amid the rest of the massive commercial gorillas that surround (and loom over) it, but as I paused to gaze out of the windows while wandering the halls there that seemed like a good thing, really; it reminded me of the calm you hear about that occurs in the eye of a hurricane, where all around you is raging out of control and yet you're able to stand unaffected.

A different view of the "MBK Intersection" from the June 18th post last year

I don't remember how many levels there are to explore at the center (seven, I think - and pardon my dropping back to the Western spelling) but there's plenty of exhibit space.  At least one level had spaces partitioned by glass walls to separate the works but still allow an open and spacious feel to the area, and there were a couple of larger exhibit halls, too.

Looking down the open central area from a higher floor

As I'd usually hope a museum or gallery to be, it was quiet throughout.  No piped music or informational recorded loops going to distract from the tranquility of the place.  There are a number of spots to sit and discuss the works, and people were sitting and talking quietly among themselves.  One man appeared to be deep in thought - or perhaps just waiting for someone he'd arrived with - but he was seated in the same chair the entire time I was visiting one afternoon. In fact, I've just noticed - if you look closely to the left in the panorama shot above you can see him, too.

The center is easy to get to, as well.  As I mentioned above it's right at the National Stadium BTS station, but it's also accessable by bus (their web site says you can use the 15, 16, 21, 25, 29, 34, 36, 40, 47, 48, 50, 54, 73, 79, 93, 141, 159, 204 and the air-con 508 lines) and if you're a canal boat traveler you can get off at the Sapan Hua-Chang landing and be about a football field away from the front doors.

If you've been shopping in the malls in Bangkok you're likely to have seen the buildings, but maybe never gone in. I wouldn't want to drag a double handful of shopping bags along with me, but I highly recommend you make a stop there to visit some time. It's a fantastic way to miss the heat of mid-day. Go shopping afterwards.

Next time: pictures of some of the exhibits.

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