During this trip to Bangkok, we went to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the beautiful Italian Renaissance and Neo Classic style building which was used as the Parliament House until 1974 and is now a museum.
The first thing I noticed upon arrival was how strictly they prohibit taking photographs of the building. Twice I was stopped by the security guards when I tried to point my camera at its direction. It was really quite a shame. The building, the construction of which was commissioned to the architects Mario Tamagno and Annibale Rigotti using marble from Italy and other foreign materials, was really quite magnificent.
The highlight of the museum was the "Arts of the Kingdom" exhibition, in which exquisite traditional Thai handicrafts ranging from Thai fabrics to items encrusted with gold, silver and jewels were on display. The breathtaking and beautifully crafted works were produced under the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques or the SUPPORT Foundation initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The aim was to enable farmers to earn supplementary incomes on the one hand and to preserve Thai arts and crafts on the other. Since its establishment in 1976, The Foundation has been setting up SUPPORT Centers in various regions of Thailand which offer training courses in different departments of crafts.
The crafts on display in the "Arts of the Kingdom" exhibition represent years of hard work of the people involved. According to the descriptions of many display items, it has taken hundreds of artisans a number of years to produce each of them.
This project which seeks to solve the poverty problem and preserve the precious heritage of Thailand is a commendable one indeed.