Her Highness Princess Dara Rasmi Museum
She was a most important person, who acted as the link between the northern and Thai royalties. Phra Raja Jaya Dara Rasmi was both an elder half -sister of the Chief Prince of Chiang Mai and a wife of the former Siamese King. One year before the end of King Chulalongkhorn's reign, in 1909, Princess Dara Rasmi visited her homeland after an absence of 21 years. The honour which the King granted her during this trip enormously enhanced her capacity as a uniting force for the northern Princes, particularly those in Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang. In early 1915 she was allowed to return to live permanently in Chiang Mai where she continued to play an active social and cultural role.
During her stay in Bangkok she demonstrated great interest in Western social and cultural influences, which had become highly fashionable in the court of King Chulalongkorn. She sent a Prince and a Princess from Chiang Mai to school in Europe while she encouraged those who stayed in Bangkok to devote their time to the serious study of the Siamese language. After her permanent return to the North she became the most active official patron of the Chiang Mai Royal Pages' College and continued to render support to several other schools. In the reign of King Vajiravudh, the Princess was still treated with great respect by the King and she maintained close relationships with some members of the royal family in Bangkok. Her presence in the North created a better social and cultural bond between the traditional political elite. Moreover she acted as a stimulant to the local elite to adjust themselves to the changing world. Plays and dances invented and performed in her Palace ingeniously reflected a blend between the northern and central Thai traditions and symbolized the trend of change at that time.
Late 1999 her home in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai was renovated and opened as a museum. Entrance fees are twenty baht per person, for adults and ten baht for children and students in uniform. Monks and children in uniform are allowed free entrance and the museum is open on Tuesdays to Sundays between nine a.m. and five p.m. Daraphirom Palace Museum as it is called is can be contacted at (053) 299175.
The National Museum
Recently renovated, Chiang Mai's National Museum is well worth a visit.
The museum has an up-to-date and modern showcase for the heritage of Lanna. The downstairs area shows the historical development of the north of Thailand from Pre-Neolithic times to the present. There are models and paintings depicting legends and historical events, also scenes of the way of life in olden days. There are show cases with ceramics that have been excavated from the famous fourteenth - sixteenth century kilns of the old Kingdom of Lanna - Kalong, Sangkampaeng, Lampang and so on.. There are cases filled with bronze and gold jewellery and other artefacts. Everywhere are fine examples of Buddha statues. Upstairs are collections of old farming and handicraft tools, wood carvings, old photographs and superb textiles.
The museum is situated near Chiang Mai University on the main ring road, grandly named the Superhighway. The spacious grounds house the northern region archaeological research centre. Two ancient kilns have been excavated and rebuilt in the grounds.
The museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays.
Chiang Mai Local Museum
Aimed at showcasing local and traditional artifacts, the museum hopes to become a useful teaching aid to instill pride in local history and culture to Chiang Mai's school children.
"Chiang Mai has no hero," said Kasaan Supakitvilakakarn, interior designer and advisor on the project. "Schools here teach Bangkok centric syllabuses, where the Kingdom of Lanna is barely mentioned, and when it is mentioned, it's not in the best light, but as a vassal state to other kingdoms, which was not always the case in Lanna's history. Lanna has a very rich and wonderful past and we have our very own heroes too. So in order to instill some pride in our children, we have set up this museum and information centre so that they can learn of Lanna's ancient Kings, our battles won by local heroes as well as learn of our cultural heritage.
The various exhibits are superbly created with sculptural stories of our Royal past and beautiful paintings of ancient maps depicting old Lanna territories all created by some of Chiang Mai's most celebrated sculptors and painters. Each panel is accompanied by a backlit sign explaining each exhibit, firstly in Kam Muang, then Thai and followed by English. The exhibit is also audibly explained in five languages by the sophisticated palm which is handed to every visitor. A coffee and gift shop allows the interested visitor to spend some time in the museum in a relaxed and attractive setting.
As the statuesque Three Kings look towards the Ping River, this museum is on their right hand side.
Hill Tribe Museum
Heading north out of Chiang Mai on Route 107, or Chotana Road, to Mae Rim, you will come to Rama IX Lanna Park. In this specious park can be found the Hill Tribe Museum run by the Hill Tribe Research Institute, a part of the Public Welfare Department.
This ethnological museum has collections illustrating the cultures of 10 tribal groups or subgroups: the Hmong, Karen, Mien, Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Lua, Thin, Khamu and Mla Bree. There are exhibitions of their lifestyles; their costumes, beliefs and education, using only materials derived from the tribal peoples own hands. Such is the quality of the material at the museum that it is used as a research and study centre.
The building itself is divided into three floors. The first floor has exhibitions of clothing, ornaments, farm tools, musical instruments, basketwork, ceremonial and domestic utensils, and pictures, photographs and statues of the hill people in traditional dress. On the second floor is an exhibition of the history of assistance and development projects targeting the hill tribes, together with these projects results. Finally on the top floor is a display featuring projects and programmes aimed at the tribes people that have been sponsored and initiated by their Majesty The King and The Queen or by other members of the Royal Family. This museum is not only interesting, but also gives a valuable insight into the lives of the hill dwellers of Northern Thailand. tel. 053-210872, 053-221933.