The Black House or “Baan Dam” in Thai, is a contemporary art museum comprised of artist Thawan Dunchanee’s lives work. Unlike conventional galleries where artwork is displayed inside methodical buildings, Baan Dams 15 galleries are displayed within architectural masterpieces that transform the museum grounds into a single piece of work that speaks of the darkness in humanity (My own interpretation).
Thawans art is eerie and dark in composition, with displays being commissioned out of various animal parts.Walking around you’ll find long carved dining tables set with buffalo horns and table runners made from the skin of snakes and crocodiles, enormous drums made from animal rawhide, wolf and bear fur with taxidermy heads spread across beds, antique weapons lining dusty wooden walls and much more obscure items that reference to death and decay.
I’m a massive animal lover and seeing the remains of so many beautiful creatures was unnerving, but at the same time it’s hard not to appreciate the beauty and mystery hidden within each display.
Baan Dam is definitely one of the most alluring places I’ve visited in Thailand and is worth visiting if you are in Chiang Rai. BUT only if your not opposed or repelled by the sight of animal remains.
Hours: Open from 9am to 12pm and then 1pm to 5pm everyday.
Free (my favourite kinda museum)
How To Get There:
Baan Dam Museum is a little off the beaten track, but by no means impossible or even hard to visit. It is located 12km from Chiang Rai city center and an approximate 20 minute drive. As this is Thailand there is a muiltitude of transport options to get you to and from Baan Dam, but if you are travelling on a budget like me then either Songthaew or the public bus are your best option.
Black House via Songthaew – When taking a Songthaew to Baan Dam you have two options:
1- Privately rent out a Songthaew and driver for the day which costs approximately 500 baht depending on your negotiation skills. The driver will take you Directly to Baan Dam and wait for you while you look around.
2- Find a songthaew driver willing to take you there and negotiate a fair price (I payed 20baht per person). Though this option is cheaper than renting a songthaew for the day the driver will not wait for you and you will need to find your own way back to the city. Songthaews can be found in a waiting area on Prasopsook Rd in the city centre opposite the market and 7 eleven.
Black House via Public Bus – If you are looking for the most humble means of transport (A/C is an open window) then the local bus is for you. The local bus to Baan Dam departs regularly throughout the day from platform 5 at the old Chang Rai bus terminal (terminal #1). Once on board the bus tell the conductor you are going to Baan Dam or the Black House as the signs for the Museum are small and easily missed. The bus costs 20baht per person and is payed for on board.
The bus takes 20-25 minutes to reach Moo 13 (highway), the bus will stop in front of a small dirt road with a sign saying “Cultural Art Museum” pointing down the road. Following this road and the art museum signs for 800m and you will reach the museums main gate.
Repeat in reverse to get the bus home.