A permanent Chiang Mai home for contemporary art

The north of Thailand’s first contemporary art museum opening in Sankampaeng. A fitting home for one of the country’s largest private collections of contemporary art.

By | Wed 1 Jun 2016

Love art? You are going to love this.

This July will see the north of Thailand’s first contemporary art museum opening in Sankampaeng. A fitting home for one of the country’s largest private collections of contemporary art. Chiang Mai has been producing arts and crafts for over 700 years, and for the past few decades, has been home to some of Thailand’s most exciting artists.

The 3,000 square metre museum will be home to over 200 pieces — paintings, sculptures and multi-media — from the Beurdeley–Bunnag family collection. Jean Michel Beurdeley and his late wife Patsri Bunnag, together with their son Eric Bunnag Booth, have spent the past 30 years collecting art, mostly Thai, but also from other South East Asian countries. Their collection includes seminal works by masters of Thai contemporary art from the late Montien Boonma, Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Chatchai Puipia and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook to Navin Rawanchaikul, Natee Utarit, Vasan Sitthiket, Pinaree Sanpitak, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, amongst many others.

“In no way does our collection represent the whole history of Thai contemporary art — it represents just our own point of view, based on the sole criterion of the emotional response the works give us. I believe a work of art exists as a result the artist’s creativity, but also in the emotional response it produces in the viewer,” said Eric Bunnag Booth, who has spent the past year working with architect Rachaporn Choochey to create a museum which focuses on art, rather than architecture. A temporary exhibition hall on the ground floor, which can open up to the outdoors for live shows and social events, will feature revolving exhibits, starting with Chiang Mai resident and Palme d’Or recipient Apichatpong ‘Joe’ Weerasethakul’s multi-media retrospective, “The Serenity of Madness”. The multi-media exhibition will include a programme of special screenings, activities, and talks throughout the course of the exhibition.

A large 1,300 square metre room on the second floor will house the family’s permanent collection and two smaller rooms will hold visiting collections from abroad. There is also a 40 seat screening room as well as a small room featuring the history of the Bunnag family. Eric Bunnag Booth’s great grand aunt, Jao Jom Iam, was a royal consort to King Rama V and both the museum’s name and this room is in homage to her life, a time when Thailand first entered the modern international stage. The museum is in accordance to all international museum standards and will provide an excellent opportunity for all art lovers, aspiring and up and coming artists, and students to come to enjoy the finest of art.

“I hope that this museum will inspire people to collect art,” said Eric Bunnag Booth. “We will charge a nominal fee, maybe 150 baht — with discounts for students of course–so that only those who are really interested will come. We want this museum to be a collaboration between artists and the Chiang Mai community, which has been steeped in art for centuries. We are just jumping onto the 700 year old bandwagon.”

The museum will be open from July 4th between 10am-6pm.