The Siamese revolution of 1932 was a culmination of a series of events through one of Thailand’s most tumultuous times. On June 24th of that year, almost over eight centuries of absolute monarchy ended with a bloodless coup d’état. Learning why this happened can be quite overwhelming, with both conventional and alternative perspectives offering valuable insights. Regardless of anyone’s take on the revolution, it is generally agreed that the central figure who bore the greatest burden of that transition was King Prajadhipok. The seventh monarch of the Chakri Dynasty who eventually abdicated was key in turning a new chapter in Thailand’s pages of history. Now King Prajadhipok Museum stands as a great archive on his life and the arrival of democracy in Siam.
King Prajadhipok Museum’s permanent exhibition explores his life’s trajectory: from his childhood to kinghood to life after abdication. Events that shaped him are clearly laid out to understand a quiet figure who never thought he would be taking on the role as father of a nation. King Prajadhipok’s reign began in 1925 and lasted a little less than a decade. He inherited a troubled state with political instability, financial insecurity, and mired in a global environment drifting in the wake of the Great Depression. During this time, the king took on his role in stride and worked diligently to remedy the nation’s woes. However, the people’s call for democracy would be too strong for him to dismiss. The exhibition ends with his time after Thailand’s transition and shifts to his personal interests, including filmmaking.
The King Prajadhipok Museum is located in a grand neo-colonial building in North Rattanakosin Island that has been deemed a heritage building by the Fine Arts Department. Located close to the Phanfa Bridge, it was originally built to house John Sampson & Son’s department store, which King Chulalongkorn had courted in London in 1898 to open a branch in Bangkok to sell tailor made suits and other fashion wear. In its subsequent incarnation, the building housed a Thai department store that sold household goods. In 2002, it was opened as a museum dedicated to King Prajadhipok.