Introduction to Vimanmek Palace
Upon his return from Europe in1897, King Rama V (1868-1910) used his personal money to purchase orchards and paddy fields between Padung Krungkasem Canal and Samsen Canal for the construction of a royal garden which he named “the Dusit Garden”.
The first permanent residence in Dusit Garden was Vimanmek Mansion, built in 1900 by the royal command of King Rama V. The mansion was in fact his former Summer Palace, the Munthaturaltanaroj Residence of the Chuthathujrachathan at Koh Sri Chang, Chonburi, that was dismantled and rebuilt under the supervision of HRH Prince Narissaranuwaddhiwongse. The celebration for the completion of Vimanmek Mansion was held on March 27, 1901. King Rama V moved from the Grand Palace to reside in Vimanmek Mansion for 5 years until the completion of the Amporn Satarn Mansion in 1906 where he lived until his untimely death in 1910. As a result, Vimanmek Mansion become deserted and the royal family moved back to the Grand Palace.
In 1925, near the end of his reign, King Rama VI gave permission to for H.R.H. Indharasaksaji, his wife, to take up residence in a section of Vimanmek Mansion. After his death, she moved to the Residence in Suan Hong compound situated north of Vimanmek Mansion. Since then, the Vimanmek Mansion has not been used as a royal residence and has been used as a place of storage by the Bureau of the Royal Household for the past 50 years.
King Rama VII ordered a few renovations to the Mansion. For example, he ordered the installation of electrical wiring and repairs to the main pier at the man-made lake in the garden.
In 1982, on the auspicious occasion of the Royal Bicentennial Celebrations of Bangkok, Her Majesty the Queen asked for His Majesty’s permission to renovate the Mansion to be used as a museum to honour King Rama V by displaying his photographs, art and artefacts to commemorate royal visits to Europe as well as to exhibit Thai handicrafts to serve as a showcase of the national heritage for future generations.
Vimanmek Mansion is the largest residence in Dusit Garden. Its elaborate architectural style reflects a western influence. The building has two right-angled wings. Each wing is 60 metres long and 20 metres high. It is a three-storey building except for the part where the King resided, which is octagonal and has four-storeys. The ground floor is brick and cement while the upper floors are built of golden teakwood planks. There are altogether 31 exhibition rooms, some of which maintain the atmosphere of the past, especially the bedrooms, the Audience Chamber and the bathrooms. Some rooms house exhibitions of art works, for example, there is a silverware display room, a ceramic display room, a glassware display room and an ivory display room.
Besides Vimanmek Mansion and the Amporn Satarn Mansion in the compound of Dusit Garden or Dusit Palace (as it was later renamed by King Rama V), King Rama V allocated plots of land for the construction of residences for his Queens, consorts, sisters, daughters, and his other wives. He also named gardens, canals, gates and roads after the names of ancient Chinese porcelain commonly called “Khrueng Kim Tung”, which were very popular at the time. For example, the residence that belonged to Her Majesty Queen Srisawarindhira was named Suan Hong Residence (Swan Garden Residence). Now these residences, which are no longer used by the Royal Family and located north of Vimanmek Mansion, have been turned into museum buildings and a hall for royal coaches to be shown to the general public.