One of my first introductions to Thai art was actually in Manila. I was wandering around the Ayala Museum and struck up a conversation with a woman who’d just moved there from Bangkok. When I told her it was my next destination, she whispered only one word to me, as if it were a secret to be shared only between good friends: Silpakorn.
It was good advice. Silpakorn is the top art university in Thailand (although there are other very good ones such as Bangkok University and Chiang Mai University) and it’s definitely worth a visit—especially if you’re going to the Grand Palace, which is right across the street.
Many of Thailand’s top artists graduated from Silpakorn and quite a few of them teach there as well. The easiest way to find it is to tell the taxi driver to take you to the Grand Palace. Be prepared for a traffic jam, but you’ll be rewarded with exhibitions at three galleries when you finally arrive. The last time I visited I saw shows of graduating students from the Faculty of Printmaking and Faculty of Architecture as well as a faculty group show. Other times, I’ve seen shows of Japanese printmakers and traditional Thai painting. Some of the works in the exhibitions are for sale. Just ask a student or inquire at one of the staff offices near the galleries.