In all the time I’ve spent travelling around Bangkok I’d never been to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). It’s been on my ‘to do list’ for far too long, but I finally made it there last week and it rapidly established itself as one of my favourite places in the Thai capital. And that is high praise coming from a man who can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he’s stepped inside anything remotely resembling an art gallery. If other art venues are like this, I’ve really been missing out so it’s, ‘som nam naa’ to me!
The BACC is a really cool (in every sense) place to spend a morning or afternoon away from the heat and humidity of Thailand’s biggest city. Once inside you are transported into another world that couldn’t be more of a contrast to the bustle of Bangkok on the other side of the doors. The venue is light, welcoming and quiet and don’t be intimidated if, like me, you are not an art lover because it is a real pleasure to visit. There are security guards at the entry point and at entrances to the galleries, but it is all very low-key and it’s a friendly, unpretentious environment. Entry is free and it’s a fantastic place just to sit and relax with a good book and enjoy an iced-coffee or smoothie in a calm and chilled environment. There are plenty of places to take the weight off your feet and some delightful cafes and boutique shops dotted around the lower floors.
The Building Design
From the outside you get a sense of the curves of the building, but it is only once you step through the doors that you really appreciate the thought and design of the space. Set around a central atrium crowned with a skylight it is a beautiful but simple design that uses light, space and high ceilings to wonderful effect.
Art and Exhibition Galleries
The 7th-9th floors are home to different galleries with the theme of the exhibits changing at various times during the year. When I visited the theme was ‘Thai Trends’ and there were some truly astounding exhibits that blew me away. It’s a real mix of modern and classic art that can be enjoyed at leisure. I wouldn’t profess to understand some of the more profound stuff being exhibited, but it certainly got me thinking. If you do visit, be sure to check out the exhibits and displays that are on the street outside the venue.
History of BACC
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre project began in 1995, but ran into difficulties with funding and political apathy. Some local politicians wanted to use the location which had been earmarked for the centre turned into yet another shopping mall. Fortunately, the project got back on track in 2004 with the support of a new Bangkok governor with work on construction beginning the same year and completed in May 2008.
Mission of BACC
The BACC has a number of aims that include creating a meeting place for artists and providing cultural programmes for the community. In their own words, they also aim to “develop art and culture, creativity, imagination and inspiration among new generation and Thai people in general.”
Opening Times & Rules
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays, New Year and Songkran Festival) from 10.00 to 21.00. Entry to BACC and most exhibitions is free, but some special events, concerts and plays will charge a fee. Photos are allowed on the lower floors but are prohibited in the galleries on the higher floors. When taking photos you are requested not to use flash or tripods. No food or drink can be brought in and visitors are not allowed to touch exhibits. Children are welcome, but all visitors are asked to be quiet and respectful of others. Small bags can be taken inside BACC although they are liable to a search and need to be deposited in storage lockers before entering any of the galleries on the higher floors.
Guided Tours & Facilities
Some exhibitions have free guided tours available (ask at the information counters) inside BACC. There is excellent access to all levels of BACC with elevators, escalators and ramps and the venue is one of the few in Bangkok which is wheelchair-friendly.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is located on the corner of Pathumwan Intersection (where Rama I and Phaya Thai roads meet) opposite MBK and Siam Discovery shopping malls. The easiest way to get there is by Skytrain with the National Stadium station adjacent to BACC. There is even a covered walkway from the Skytrain station that will take you directly to the 3rd floor entrance of BACC.
Website: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre