Hidden in the grand royal monastery, Wat Somanas Rajavaravihara, stands a miniscule crimson red museum, namely, Tiny Museum. The museum was designed by Suriya Umpansiratana, a Silpathorn-awarded architect and the founder of Walllasia: Architecture & Landscape, under the supervision of Ms. Wannarith Pramoj Na Ayudhya. This museum was constructed to preserve and display ‘Korbuengjarn’, one of the precious archeological artefacts from the ancient time. Despite how this tiny museum was designed for the artifacts’ safety and sustainability, its contemporary and attractive appearance was also carefully designed to draw more attention from the younger generations.
“Korbuengjarn”, the ancient artefacts preserved and displayed at the museum, are one of the most precious historical archives as they were used as a mean of communication by engraving the letters on their surfaces.
These artefacts were discovered by a Dutch archeologist Dr. H.R. Van Heekeren when he was a war prisoner during the Second World War. The objects were later examined and expected to be from the new stone age era (2,000 – 20,000 years ago). The lord abbot of the Somanas Varavihara Temple (Chaokhun Um or Bhra Raja kavi) at the time had then developed the interests in those artefacts and collected them for further research. After he passed away, the artefacts were in the care of Bhra Siripanyamuni (Chaokhun Tem), current head of monastery of Wat Somanas Varavihara.
This museum project started when Wannarith Pramoj Na Ayudhya, ‘Korbuengjarn’s Database’, a Korbuengjarn researcher under the royal patronage of Bhra Raja Kavi Foundation, discovered that Korbuengjarn were not preserved in appropriate conditions. Hence, she came up with the preservation plan that extended into a museum project for educational purpose. With major support from Bhra Siripanyamuni, the museum project was put into action and later on Suriya was invited to participate in the project as an architect.
The museum was designed with the concept to be a treasure box keeping numerous precious archeological artefacts. Structure of the museum was integrated into the original space without interfering with the existing structure, which was constructed in the reign of Rama IV and currently under the protection and preservation of the Fine Arts Department.
The detail of architecture
45-degree gable roof was the idea suggested by Wannarith, designed to blend in with the two buildings surrounding the museum. This 45-degree is also studied to be the angle that gives the most comfortable state.
The architect used crimson red, which was the color of the doors and windows in existing buildings. Crimson structure red gave the museum eccentricity yet combined well with the surroundings.
The most suitable material for the construction of the museum that needs to integrate itself into the limited space surrounded by the original building was metal. Besides its strength and flexibility, metal parts can as well be separately made and assembled at the construction site which reduced the effects of the construction process on the existing buildings. The architect also used Thai traditional ‘Yaw Moom’ or redented angles technique to reinforce the metal sheets by folding them. This technique also made the museum even more harmoniously blended in with the neighborhood.
The project management team hopes that Tiny Museum, as a small-scale contemporary museum hidden among the great Thai traditional and historical architectures would be able to engage new generations with the national heritages, encourage further studies about such topics as well as being a model and creating know-how for art and cultural project initiatives by other temples or historical sites.