Thai Film Museum

An Unsuspected Treasure Trove in Nakhon Pathom

Created in 1984 by historian and former chief archivist Dome Sukwong, the 'Thai Film Archive' became the 'Thai Film Museum' in 1990 and moved to Salaya in Nakhon Pathom near Bangkok. Movies are still screened daily inside the Sri Salaya Theatre and Thai movie stars occasionally visit to leave their foot and hand prints on the concrete pavement surrounding the museum, just like in Hollywood.

The Thai Film Museum is an interesting stop on the way to the attractions of this underrated town located only 50 kilometres from Bangkok. By itself the museum wouldn't be worth the trip, but combined with other points of interest it's a pleasant discovery. A charming movie museum kept alive by a small group of enthusiasts, it has a surprisingly rich collection considering its modest size.

When arriving in front of the yellow building, you might even wonder if the museum is open as there is no visible grand entrance, just two tiny closed doors on the facade. Don't leave though, you can open these doors and enter the museum directly, or walk round the back where you will find the coffee shop - which doubles as a real movie theatre - and staff can let you know to make the most of your visit. Since the archive is mostly visited by groups organized in advance rather than walk in guests, the staff might be a bit surprised to see you, but they are very friendly and helpful and some can speak a bit of English. The staff are young and really passionate about cinema and are happy to show you around, sharing their extensive knowledge.

The museum is divided into several rooms packed with all kinds of movie equipment, ranging from the shooting, montage, double over, cartoon making, ticketing and projection of the movie itself.

An area displays fun props used in the popular classic ghost movies together with classic posters, trophies and awards collected along the years. One room is the replica of an old shooting studio with a stage area on one side and a director with his camera crane on the other. Behind is the montage studio displaying a large collection of massive apparatus and even a cartoon studio. And just when you think this is as much as you could fit in such small building, the guide opens a door to a small cinema room with its old uncomfortable wood benches… obviously movies were a lot shorter at the time. At the back of the cinema, the projection room comes with an interesting anecdote - in old times foreign language movies were dubbed 'live' by a person sitting with the script next to the projectionist… and even better, all the voices were done by the same person, even the female voices! Supposedly the person doing these voices was taking some liberties with the script.

When walking around the garden, don't miss the huge decrepit alien from the old Thai movie "Cool Gel Attack" (กระดึ๊บ), the old car and bus used to get around shoots, all kept in great condition. The star of the museum is an amazing steam train parked outside, with a bronze statue of Buster Keaton sitting on the wheel, recreating the scene from 'The General' in 1927. Also in the garden is a replica of the first mobile movie studio, a massive metal darkroom which can even be used to shoot short black and white silent movie of yourself!

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