Rebecca Weldon Sithiwong, a respected museum consultant in northern Thailand, gave us a fast-paced survey of museums in Chiang Mai. The talk highlighted significant collections and suggested ways in which the expatriate community can take a hand in supporting cultural preservation.
Rebecca has served as Curator with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation at Rai Mae Fah Luang, an ethnographic museum in Chiang Rai. She is currently museum advisor to the Prince Mahidol Museum Project in Chiang Mai, and is also Convenor of the Informal Northern Thai Group which provides lectures by academic researchers working in the area. A long-term resident of the region, Rebecca grew up in Laos, studied anthropologiy and museology in Europe and has lived in Thailand for over 30 years.
I was suprised where one slide during her presentation showed that there are 1313 museums in Thailand. 281 are in Northern Thailand, 112 are in Chiang Mai province, 68 in the greater Chiang Mai area, and 37 in Ampur Muang Chiang Mai.
Temples are one of the main repositories of collections.
The Chiang Mai National Museum, opened in 1973, is the main regional museum in northern Thailand. It is not far from my apartment and I have visited there. It highlights the history of the Kingdom of Lanna with descriptions in both Thai and English
The Hill Tribe Museum, run by the Hill Tribe Research Institute, is very interesting. Unfortunately it is closed at the moment but is expected to open again soon.
I must say that I expected a dry boring presentation, but it was a most interestig lecture by a lucid speaker and well illustrated by a Power Point slides.