The Jim Thompson House Museum

"The House on the Klong"

By The James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Jim Thompson with weavers (1966/1967) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thompson inspecting silk pieces at the canal side, most probably in the village of Ban Krua, across from his residence. Convinced that the beauty and quality of Thai silk would have an appeal outside Thailand, Thompson successfully exported his silks internationally.

Jim Thompson in the living room with silk (1966/1967) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thompson displaying some of his silks in the living room of his Thai house.

Jim Thompson's House (1998/1999) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The House and the Garden

The visitor finds the Jim Thompson's old residence and tropical garden down a narrow Bangkok lane, just a block away from the bustling shopping districts.

Architectural drawing (1957/1958) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The Thai house which is named "The Jim Thompson House Museum" was designed and built by Jim Thompson (September 1958 - April 1959). The residence is built on teak pillars a full floor above the ground.

Architectural drawing (1957/1958) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

For his new home, Thompson acquired several Thai houses from the Ayutthaya region, but the oldest and the most impressive dates from around 1800 and was a weaver's house from the Cham village of Bahn Krua.

Jim Thompson's House construction (1958/1959) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thompson on the building site. He brought a group of skilled carpenters down from Ayutthaya to reassemble the woodwork on a property across from Bahn Krua, the Cham village that wove his silk.

Jim Thompson's House construction (1958/1959) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The house during construction. The property is facing the canal, or klong, across from the 250-year old Bahn Krua village, home to Jim Thompson’s Cham silk weavers.

Jim Thompson's House garden (1998/1999) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"Jungle" is how Jim Thompson described his densely-planted garden, with lofty palms, golden bamboos and creepers. In general outline, the planting is the same as it was in Jim Thompson's time.

Two small buildings, formerly servant's quarters, have been turned into additional museum display space. On this photograph, the old gardener's house where paintings and manuscripts are now displayed.

Jim Thompson's House garden (1998/1999) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The garden is constantly changing but the ambience has shifted from uncontrolled chaos to controlled chaos thanks to professional care. Here, the red ginger (Alpinia) grows nearby the small pond in the rear garden.

Three sculptures (700/1200) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The Art Collection

Southeast Asian art

Jim Thompson's House 1962 (1959/1962) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thompson has been a collector of Thai antiques since 1946. In his new home, he displayed beautifully his collection of old Thai paintings, Buddhist sculpture, Chinese blue and white and various objets d’art. In general, the display of the collection remains the same as it was in Jim Thompson's time. Only the old pantry and servants quarters have been converted into exhibition pavilions in order to display benjarong porcelains, small objects and paintings.

Standing Buddha image (1600/1700) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Buddha Images

Dvaravadi, Lopburi and Ayutthaya Styles

Standing Buddha image (600/700) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"Clothed in the robe of a monk, the Buddha held a flap of the robe in his left hand. The gentle outline of the hips give a remarkable impression of movement." Dvaravadi School.

Standing Buddha image (700/800) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Bust of Buddha in brown limestone. "The wide face with a strong nose and fleshy lips, round eyes and arched and joined eyebrows are very characteristic of the Dvaravadi school.”

Head of Buddha (1250/1300) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"The hairstyle is of small curls topped by a flame-decorated ornament… A wide face with a strong chin, a wide mouth, slightly arched brows, and half-closed eyes." Ayutthaya school, U-Thong style.

Buddha Meditating on the Naga (1200/1300) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"The thoughtful face, with closed eyes, reveals this to be an example of the Bayon art."

Thepanom (1800/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Other Sculptures

Srivijaya, Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Burmese Styles

Head of Surya (700/800) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Head of Surya, the Hindu sun-god, with large conical headdress; the face is flat and surrounded by a discus incised with lines representing the sun rays.

Head of Ardhanari (900/1000) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"Ardhanari, a Brahmin god representing Siva in half-male, half female form, symbolizes the union of masculine and feminine energies."

Burmese spirit figure, Unknown, 1750/1850, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

One of the four wooden figures of Burmese spirits, or Nat, which came from near Amarapura in Burma. These figures were given to Thompson when he went to Burma as an official guest in the 1950s.

The Life of Buddha (1750/1850) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The Life of Buddha

Phra Bot, sacred cloth, and paintings, Bangkok School.

The Life of Buddha (1825/1875) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The Birth of Buddha; Queen Mahamaya is standing under a tree and holding on a branch, giving birth to Gautama Buddha, in Lumpini. On the right side, the new born prince is surrounded by Indra, colored in green, and an angel.

The Life of Buddha (1850/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Buddha returns to Kapilavatthu; the seated Buddha is preaching to his father and is in a meditative pose; he is surrounded by his disciples before the King and the court.

The Vessantara Jataka (1770/1830) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thai religious Tales

Vessantara Jataka and Phra Malai.

The Vessantara Jataka (1800/1850) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

An illustration of the thirtieth episode of the Vessantara Jataka, Nakhonkan, or the triumphant return from exile of Prince Vessantara to the Kingdom of Siva. This painting comes from the ancient northern kingdom of Lanna, now Chiang Mai province.

Phra Malai Visits the Underworld (1850/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The legend of Phra Malai, a buddhist saint known for his travels to heaven and hell, figures prominently in Thai religious treatises. He is traditionally represented wearing the saffron robe, and holding a fan. On this painting, he visits the underworld in his quest for saving the mankind from sin and hell.

Phra Abai Mani (1850/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Thai Folklore, Village scenes, Horoscope

Cockfight at the Village (1880/1920) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Cockfight at the village

Horoscope (1850/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Brahman Jati, the Siamese horoscope; here the year of the dog. A complete set of twelve astrological signs is displayed at the museum.

A set of benjarongs (1775/1800) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Benjarong & Lainamthong

Ceramics made in China for the Thai royalties

Covered bowl, Unknown, 1750/1800, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

In 1963, Jim Thompson purchased an important collection of benjarong or Sino-Thai porcelains. Here, a covered bowl with a black background decorated with Thepanom and mythical animals.

A set of three benjarong jars, Unknown, 1800/1850, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

A collection of three "toh" jars, with polychrome floral designs on a red-orange background, yellow and grey bands with floral scrolls around the rims.

Covered bowl, Unknown, 1800/1850, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

Large covered bowl with gold knob rim and green foot rim, gold flowers, green foliage and birds on white background.

Covered bowl, Unknown, 1800/1850, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

"Lai Nam Thong, Sino-Thai porcelain with gold background, first half of 19th century. It is delicately ornamented with flowers, leaves and birds".

A collection of blue-and-white (1500/1850) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Blue & White Ceramics

From China and Annam

A collection of Annamese blue-and-white, Unknown, 1400/1700, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

A collection of Annamese blue and white.

A collection of Chinese blue-and-white, Unknown, 1500/1800, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

A collection of Chinese blue and white.

A collection of Sino-Thai blue-and-white, Unknown, 1850/1900, From the collection of: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation
Show lessRead more

A collection of Sino-Thai blue and white.

Painting on black lacquer (detail) (1650/1750) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

Decorative Arts

Chinese & Siamese artistry

The Mouse House (1800/1900) by UnknownThe James H.W. Thompson Foundation

The Mouse House: "A fanciful little structure that was made by 19th-century Chinese carvers to house pet white mice."

Credits: Story

The James H.W. Thompson Foundation

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.
Google apps