Baan Dam Museum

If you are looking for something different to do in Chiang Rai, a visit to the Baan Dam Museum is a must. 

Also known as the Black House, this museum showcases a unique collection of art and artifacts that are both intriguing and controversial. Created by one of Thailand’s most renowned artists, Thawan Duchanee, the museum is a fascinating glimpse into the darker side of Thai art.

Exploring the Dark and Mysterious World of Baan Dam Museum



  • Baan Dam Museum showcases a unique style of art created by Thai artist Thawan Duchanee, featuring colorful and quirky paintings, sculptures, furniture, and more.
  • The museum is spread over many traditional-style timber buildings in a beautiful park, with an entrance fee of a reasonable 80THB for both foreigners and Thais.
  • Visitors can expect to be surprised at every turn and see a variety of works of art, including Buddha statues, animal bones, crocodile skins, and phallic art.
  • The museum is well-maintained, relatively quiet, and not overrun, and there is ample parking space.



  • Some visitors found the displays too weird, gory, or pseudo-pornographic, such as crocodile skins, buffalo horns, and grotesquely priapic men.
  • Some visitors felt that the museum was not for them and didn’t make sense, with locked buildings containing someone else’s “treasures” viewed through glass.
  • A few visitors might have preferred a trip to a local temple instead of the museum or found it hard to fully understand the art and exhibits.


The History of Baan Dam Museum

Thawan Duchanee, the founder of Baan Dam Museum, was a controversial figure in Thailand’s art world. Born in Chiang Rai in 1939, he was trained in traditional Thai art and went on to become one of the country’s most celebrated artists. However, his work was often criticized for its dark and macabre themes, and he was even accused of blasphemy by some conservative groups.


In the 1970s, Thawan began to collect traditional Thai art and antiques, which he displayed in his home in Chiang Rai. Over time, he expanded his collection to include more contemporary art and his own creations. In 1997, he decided to turn his collection into a museum, and the Baan Dam Museum was born.


The Museum’s Unique Exhibits

One of the things that make the Baan Dam Museum so unique is the diversity of its exhibits. The museum features a wide range of artwork, including sculptures, paintings, and installations. Many of the pieces are inspired by traditional Thai art and folklore, but with a dark twist that is characteristic of Thawan’s style.

One of the most impressive exhibits is the main building itself. Designed by Thawan himself, the building is a work of art in its own right. Made from black wood and decorated with animal skins and horns, it resembles a traditional Thai temple but with a much darker aesthetic.


Another notable exhibit is the animal bones and skins that are scattered throughout the museum. These artifacts are not just for show; they are meant to represent the cycle of life and death that is central to Thawan’s work. Other exhibits include contemporary art pieces, antique ceramics, and religious artifacts.


Exploring Baan Dam Museum

Exploring Baan Dam Museum is a unique and thought-provoking experience. Visitors are free to wander around the museum and take in the exhibits at their own pace. Many of the pieces are accompanied by detailed descriptions that provide insight into Thawan’s artistic vision.

Baan Dam Museum also offers a glimpse into Thai folklore and culture. The museum houses an impressive collection of antiques and artifacts, including antique furniture, traditional textiles, and ceramics. Each of these items tells a story about Thailand’s rich cultural heritage and traditions.

The art pieces on display at Baan Dam Museum are a reflection of the country’s deep-rooted beliefs in animism and spiritualism. You’ll find a collection of masks, sculptures, and paintings, all depicting mythical creatures and deities. Some of the art pieces are inspired by the Hindu epic, Ramayana, and showcase the characters and scenes from the story. 


While some of the exhibits may be disturbing or controversial, they are all part of Thawan’s attempt to explore the darker side of human nature. For those who appreciate art that challenges the status quo, Baan Dam Museum is an essential destination.


Tips for Visiting Baan Dam Museum

If you’re planning to visit Baan Dam Museum, here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around the museum a lot.
  • The museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day, and the admission fee is THB 80 per person.
  • Consider hiring a guide to help you understand the art pieces and the history of the museum better.
  • Respect the cultural and religious significance of the art pieces and artifacts displayed in the museum.


Practical Information

Baan Dam Museum is located in Chiang Rai province, about 10 km north of the city center. 

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Admission fee: 80 baht for adults; 40 baht for children. 

The museum is easily accessible by car or motorbike, and there is ample parking available.


Baan Dam Museum is not for everyone. Its dark and sometimes disturbing exhibits may not be to everyone’s taste. However, for those who are open to exploring the darker side of art, the museum is a must-visit destination. With its unique exhibits and fascinating history, Baan Dam Museum is one of the most intriguing museums in Thailand.

Reviews from TripAdvisor:

Definitely one of the must-visit destinations in Chiang Rai
Feb 2023 • Friends

A one-of-a-kind work by a Thai artist in an unusual style. Over 50 years of work dedicated to architecture and colorful art. The majority of the buildings in the area, each of which has something unique to offer. A strange collection of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, and other items to consider.


Lots of crocodile skins
Feb 2023

Thawan Duchanee created this massive museum, which is spread across many large and small, mostly traditional-style timber buildings in an attractive park. There are not only numerous complete crocodile skins, but also numerous buffalo horns and several examples of phallic art; two toilets are also on display! The numerous Buddha statues are also worth a look. Entry is a reasonable 80THB, which is the same price for both foreigners and Thais.


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