On hearing the name “John Samson & Son Department Store”, the online-shopper generation must be wondering in which corner of Bangkok this Department Store is. Ask the old folks at home, especially those who’ve lived in the Lan Luang area, and they will probably recall the building that is now King Prajadhipok Museum. It stands at the corner of Lan Luang Road, by Phan Fa Lilat Bridge in Phra Nakhon District.
The neo-classic, three-storey, concrete and timber building dates back to 1906, when King Rama V comanded the Crown Property Bureau to construct a large building for rent. The building was designed by Charles Beguelin, a French-Swiss architect who worked for the municipality office at that time, in an elegant Western style. The octagonal domed tower and the main staircases ascending to left and right from the hallway, create a grand atmosphere.
Once completed, the building was rented out to John Samson & Son, owners of a well-known department store on London’s Bond Street. It sold goods imported from Britain, such as clothes, leather goods, tailor-made services for western-style business suits and horse riding equipment. When John Samson & Son Department Store closed down during King Rama VI’s reign, the building was rented out to Suthadilok Department Store, which sold modern sanitary ware, glass ware and building supplies. It changed hands again in 1933, when it was rented out as office space to the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning.
Finally, in 2001, the Department of Public Works granted the rental rights to King Prajadhipok's Institute, which has used the building as the King Prajadhipok Museum ever since.
The first and second floors of the museum are dedicated to the lives and work of Queen Rambhai Barni and King Prajadhipok respectively, while the third floor exhibits royal decorations, clothes, hats and shoes. It also has exhibits which illustrate His Majesty’s important royal duties and his role during the changeover period from absolute to constitutional monarchy.
Location: 2 Lan Luang Road, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok
Open: Tue – Sun and public holidays, 9am – 4pm