When I was a child, my parents had a lot of silk elephants as a decoration in the house. I loved them. They were colorful and too cute with their bow tie. These elephants come from the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, so when I returned to Bangkok in 2012, I went to visit this famous house.
Discovering the Jim Thompson House
Who’s Jim Thompson?
Jim Thompson is an American born in 1906 in Greenville, Delaware. Before the Second World War, he was an architect, then he entered the American army. The goal of his contingent was to restore independence and freedom in Thailand.
When he left the army, he decided to reside permanently in Thailand. Jim Thompson was passionate for hand-woven silk. He devoted himself to the revival of this art. A talented draughtsman and colourist, his participation was fundamental to the revival of Thai silk weaving and to the international reputation it acquired.
Why did he become famous?
He became famous when he built his residence of six teak buildings in the style of traditional Thai architecture. Being often more than 200 years, these houses, from Ayutthaya, were dismantled to be routed to their present location in the heart of Bangkok.
True to his taste of the authentic, Jim Thompson followed with the utmost respect the traditions of the Thai builders. The houses were raised above ground level, a technique in Thailand to prevent flooding in rainy seasons. Traditional religious rites accompanied the construction of the house and Jim Thompson settled in the spring of 1959.
The house and the collection of art objects gained such notoriety that he opened them to the public. He distributed the income to charities and projects dedicated to the conservation of Thai cultural heritage.
On March 26, 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared during a weekend with friends in Malaysia.
What happened to his house?
In 1976, the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand gave permission to establish a foundation named Jim Thompson. As a result, the property was transferred to the foundation. The residence and the art collection are now officially registered as a national museum.
Jim Thompson Foundation
The foundation includes the famous Jim Thompson House and its art collection. But, also, the Jim Thompson Farm: a farm which organizes scout, science and farm life camps for young Thai people. Jim Thompson’s silk creations and restaurants are also part of the foundation. By its statutes and in accordance with Jim Thompson’s wishes, the foundation is dedicated to the conservation and protection of the Thai cultural heritage.
Come and discover Jim Thompson’s world.