Jim Thompson was an American businessman who helped revitalize the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. A former U.S. military intelligence officer, Thompson mysteriously disappeared from Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands while going for a walk on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967. Many hypotheses have been advanced to explain his disappearance. Theories range from his committing suicide to his being carried away by aborigines.
The Jim Thompson House is a museum in Bangkok. It is a complex of various old Thai structures that Jim Thompson collected in from all parts of Thailand in the 1950s and 60s. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand.
As Thompson was building his silk company, he also became a major collector of Southeast Asian art, which at the time was not well known internationally. He built a large collection of Buddhist and secular art not only from Thailand but from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, frequently travelling to those countries on buying trips.
In 1958 he began what was to be the pinnacle of his architectural achievement, a new home to showcase his art collection. Formed from parts of six antique Thai houses, his home sits on a canal across from Bangkrua, where his weavers were then located. During the construction stage, he added his own touches to the buildings by positioning, for instance, a central staircase indoors rather than having it outside. Most of the 19th century houses were dismantled and moved from Ayutthaya, but the largest – a weaver’s house (now the living room) – came from Bangkuar.
It took Thompson almost a year to complete his mansion. Now a museum, the Jim Thompson House could be reached by public or private transport. Except for Sundays, it is open to the public from 9am to 4.30pm.
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