The Ubon Ratchathani National Museum is located on the corner of Khuanthani Road and Upparat Road, adjacent to the Tung Sri Muang park. The building itself was built in 1918 and was originally used as the offices of the Governor of the province. A new Sala Klang (Provincial Hall) was built in 1968 and in 1983 the then Governor presented the original building to the Fine Arts Department for restoration and use as a museum. HRH Princess Sirindhorn presided over the inauguration ceremony on 30th June 1989.
The building itself is most attractive. A series of rooms surrounds a large central hall containing Buddha images, which is used on occasion as a lecture hall. Either side of this hall are two rectangular garden areas. An internal verandah separates the rooms from the central hall and gardens. This layout results in a shady, cool, quiet ambience that suits very well the new purpose of the building, and the polished teak and fretwork designs that decorate the top of door-frames and pillars are themselves significant cultural artefacts.
Outside the main building is an open-sided sala housing three large sema stones dating from the 8th—9th centuries AD, a long dugout boat, and a huge iron ‘road-scraper’ from the late 19th century.
Everyone will have their own idea as to the highlights of the main exhibition, but there are some particularly important exhibits, all of which were found in Ubon Ratchathani Province (although some were found in what are now Amnat Charoen and Yasothon — provinces which were created at a later date).
Amongst the most important items on view here are a bronze kettle drum that is more than 2,000 years old, pottery found in Amphur Phana that is more than 1,500 years old, sema stones from the 8th and 9th centuries, an image of Shiva mixed with his consort Uma (9th century AD), a sandstone Ganesa image from the 10th century AD, delicate Buddha images in the Lao style from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as photographs from the end of the 19th century.
The museum is open on Wednesdays through Sundays, but closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays. Opening hours are from 9am to 4pm. The admission fee is 30 Baht.
Photography is not allowed inside the museum, but if you wish to take photographs you can apply to the Director by asking at the ticket counter. Permission will be allowed or refused immediately and involves a certain amount of form-filling.
Sadly, the National Museum here is not as well patronised as it deserves to be, but the upside of that is that it is a quiet, restful place where you will find it easy to spend time looking at the nicely varied exhibition.