The Royal Thai Army Museum (short name) was designed to cover the history of the army, the wars, the leaders and the weapons. By 1996, the museum was a reality, but shortly thereafter it was closed to the public. SADJ was invited in for a private tour, and allowed to photograph the exhibits for this special article. We of course concentrated on the small arms displays. No exterior pictures were allowed of the building for security reasons.
The Museum consists of eight exhibit halls, each dedicated to a different part of the Thai Army history. One room has has war dioramas that are quite well done, another has uniforms and medals, yet another section has the portraits of the Generals of the Army and other historical figures that are prominent in Thai history. If you attend, you should not miss these other exhibits; the displays will bring a true appreciation of Thailand’s battles and warriors.
The Royal Thai Army Museum is not open to the public. Special arrangements can be made for political visitors and military visitors, and if you can show that you are legitimately connected with the military, a tour might be arranged, depending on the Curator’s schedules. Attendees at the Defense & Security Thailand exhibition in November of 2009 should contact Major Pornpun Kwan to request a visit.
The Army museum originated in 1882 during the reign of King Rama V. It was located on the third floor of the Ministry of Defense building and the museum’s first official name was the “Military Museum of the Ministry of Defense.” When the ministry needed the museum site for its newly established military unit, the weapons, military equipment as well as a wide range of other military-related collections, which had been on display there, were given to the National Museum. Several top Army commanders had tried unsuccessfully to re-start the defunct Royal Thai Army Museum for a lack of an appropriate location. Thus, the museum project had been put on hold indefinitely. When the former compound of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy became the new location for the Royal Thai Army Headquarters, the Administrative and Ordnance buildings were kept intact. The military authorities deemed it appropriate to renovate and equip the two historic buildings built during the reign of King Rama V as the Army museum. On June 9, 1996, the Army museum was officially opened to commemorate the golden jubilee of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne. The museum has since become known as “The Royal Thai Army Museum in Honor of His Majesty the King.