Moving Forward

Travel with Siam in this photography series as the infrastructure develops and the country is further unified, quickly moving forward to where it is today.

By Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

The National Archives of Thailand

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (1879/1881) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

The air is suffused with excitement as Siam quickly moves forward. And we weave in and out of Bangkok as the railway system begins to expand outwards.

The Residence of Phraya Burinavarath (1910/1918) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Post and Telegraph Office (1925/1934) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Siam had experienced an expansion of the railway system which began during King Chulalongkorn’s reign, culminating in a unified and vast network during the reign of King Vajiravudh (1910-1925).

Ban Huai Takhaeng (1908) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

The construction of the railway reflects Western influence in two ways, both physical and ideological. The most evident influence is the use of Western materials and technology for the railway itself.

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (1924) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

However, the more subtle influence is that the railway enabled the realization of the Western idea of a “nation-state” pursued by Asian rulers of the period by connecting the periphery to the center.

Wihan Lai Kham (1924) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Phra Singh Temple; Chiang Mai, Northern Siam

Buddhist monks inside the front porch (1924) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Elephants used during H.R.H. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab’s inspection tour (1906) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Governance can be centralized and the project of unifying the culture and administration of the country can begin.

Nakhon Phanom ladies (1906) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Ladies in Nakhon Phanom, Northeastern Siam, sitting on the ladder leading up the platform to get on and off an elephant

The La Grandière (1906) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Siam had thereby become more connected and thus unified, leading to growth in mass tourism and large scale development which expanded beyond the capital

Prince Damrong’s entourages (1906) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

A Large Open-plan Office (1907/1927) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

And yet, amidst all of the modernization and movement, we see the Siamese people go through the everyday motions of life

An Old-fashioned Office (1910/1927) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

sorting through documents at work

A Metal Cabinets (1910/1927) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

A Model of Sala Chaloem Krung (1927/1933) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

and going to the cinema in order to enjoy the steady influx of western movies.

This is a model of Sala Chalermkrung, a movie theater built in Bangkok during the reign of King Prajadhipok (1925-1935)

Sala Chaloem Krung (1927/1933) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

This theatre was built by King Prajadhipok as a gift to the city of Bangkok on the auspicious occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Bangkok.

"If you have symptoms of nausea, dizziness, yawning or burping or other such symptoms while traveling, you may enquire about Ya Hom Sukonthaosoth at Bunyarat which can be reached in 30-40 steps"caption from signage

The newly-opened Sala Chaloem Krung (1933) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

The cinema was opened on July 2nd, 1933.

The main entrance hall, Sala Chaloem Krung (1933) by The National Archives of ThailandBangkok Art and Culture Centre

“Tarzan The Ape Man” was one of Sala Chalermkrung’s first movies.

Walk through the exhibition space to enjoy Moving Forward


Learn more about Glass Plate Photography, what happens inside the dark room? 


Credits: Story

The Ministry of Culture,Thailand
The Fine Arts Department
The National Archives of Thailand
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
Sirivadhanabhakdi Foundation
Thai Beverage PLC
The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand
The Photographic Arts Foundation
Wet Plate and Alternative Process Thailand

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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