The Siam Society Milestones
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The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage was established in 1904 with a mission to promote knowledge of the culture, history, arts, and natural sciences of Thailand as well as those of neighbouring countries. The Siam Society’s activities are guided by its motto: “Knowledge Gives Rise to Friendship” and it welcomes visitors of all nationalities, including non-members, to visit its facilities and join its activities.
The Siam Society presents lectures by local and international experts in English and Thai; owns and operates a library focused on Southeast Asia with an outstanding collection of rare books and palm leaf manuscripts; publishes the Journal of the Siam Society, the Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society, and other scholarly books; organises study trips to historical, cultural, and natural sites around Thailand and overseas; stages cultural and music performances; holds exhibitions of books, arts, and artefacts; hosts international conferences; is involved in cultural preservation and has an ethnological museum in a magnificent old teak house situated on its grounds.
With a membership today that comprises of over 60 nationalities, The Siam Society remains as committed as ever to pursuing its long-standing mission, guided by the motto: “Knowledge Gives Rise to Friendship”.
Accolades Received by The Siam Society
– 2002 –
The Siam Society was cited by the Association of Siamese Architects for its excellence in preserving the historically significant buildings within its compound.
— 2012 —
The Siam Society was awarded “Best Cultural Organisation” status at provincial, regional and national levels by the Ministry of Culture of the Royal Thai Government.
— 2013 —
The Council Minutes books from 1904−2004 were inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register.
— 2014 —
The library was conferred “Outstanding Specialist Library” status by the Thai Library Association.
Journey of The Siam Society
The Siam Society was founded by a group of Thai and international scholars, and soon established its reputation as a society whose members included illustrious historians and archaeologists.
HRH Crown Prince Vajiravudh (later HM King Rama VI, r. 1910−1925) became its first Patron. HRH Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, one of Thailand’s leading scholars and then President of the National Library of Thailand, became Vice-Patron. Chao Phraya Bhaskarawongse (Phorn Bunnag) was conferred honorary membership in recognition of his distinguished scholarship in the field of literature, as well as his generosity in placing his extensive library at the disposal of Society members.
International scholarly societies throughout the world immediately extended their support, including École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Royal Batavian Association of Arts and Sciences, Royal Asiatic Society, and Società Asiatica Italiana. The publications of these Societies formed the basis of The Siam Society’s library collection.
The Siam Society’s mission was determined to be the encouragement of research and information-gathering on the arts, history, culture and natural sciences of Thailand and its neighbouring countries.
The Siam Society moved into its first semi-permanent address, on the first floor of the Falck & Beidek Building.
The motto: “Knowledge Gives Rise to Friendship” was adopted to convey the message that the search for knowledge links people of all nations together in friendship.
The Siam Society built its first brick-and-mortar building, an auditorium with a stage, at 131 Asoke Montri Road, a land plot that was donated by Mr A.E. Nana. The Society now had a permanent address and could provide improved library services.
The Society’s second building, with a library and office, was opened. HM King Bhumibol, HM Queen Sirikit, HM King Frederik IX of Denmark, HM Queen Ingrid of Denmark, and HM Queen Rambai Barni graciously participated in the library’s dedication ceremony.
Click on the gallery on the left to read newspaper report of the opening.
The Nimmanhaeminda family of Chiang Mai gifted Kamthieng House, an outstanding example of old northern Thai architecture, to the Society. The teakwood house was reassembled on the Society’s grounds and today serves as an ethnological museum that is open to the public.
On the occasion of The Siam Society’s 84th anniversary, and also in commemoration of her late husband Acharn Saeng Aroon, Khun Lada Ratkasikorn gifted a teakwood house that is an excellent example of central Thai architecture. Saeng Aroon House was graciously opened on 26 February 1988 by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, then Honorary President of The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage.
The Chalerm Phrakiat Building, constructed in honour of the 50th coronation anniversary of HM King Bhumibol, was completed. It housed the library, an exhibition space, meeting rooms, facilities and an office for permanent staff. The building was graciously opened on behalf of HM King Bhumibol by HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn on 30 September 1998.
The Association of Siamese Architects Under Royal Patronage conferred a special award to The Siam Society for its excellence in preservation of the historically significant buildings − namely the Auditorium, Kamthieng House, and Saeng Aroon House − in its compound.
The Society was awarded “Best Cultural Organisation” status at provincial, regional and national levels by the Ministry of Culture of the Royal Thai Government.
The Council Minutes Books from 1904−2004 were inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register. According to UNESCO they testify to the scope of work, and continuous cooperation, of an international and intellectual nature among the many generations of Council Members elected to carry out the work of The Siam Society during a long and eventful century.