Under the Royal Patronage of
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

A device for reeling silk yarn, mounted on a base that consists of a naga, or sacred serpent and a crocodile

A brush used to apply starch to the warp threads on the loom

Gilded wooden figure of a hong, a mythological bird often associated with royalty in Thailand; early Bangkok School

In 1976, the Court-appointed administrator for the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to establish a foundation bearing Jim Thompson's name. Accordingly, the property was vested in the Foundation, and the house and art collection are now officially registered as a national museum. By virtue of the dictates of its charter and the abiding interests of Jim Thompson, the Foundation dedicates and commits itself to the preservation and conservation of Thailand's rich cultural heritage.

Left: Part of an apparatus used to wind warp silk in weaving
Center: A simple wheel used for reeling silk thread
found in rural Thai homes, particularly in the northeast
Right: 18th century pieces from the Bencharong collection

Past Presidents
H.S.H. Prince Ajavadis Diskul 1975 - 1977
H.S.H Prince Subhadradis Diskul 1977 - 1999

The Foundation operates under the supervision of a seven-member Board of Trustees, and has the following objectives:

  1. To open the house of James H. W. Thompson as an art museum for the interest and enjoyment of the general public in order to enhance the understanding of Thai art and culture.

  2. To promote activities related to Thai arts and culture for the benefit of Thailand.

  3. To acquire, from time to time, by donation or purchase additional artifacts or properties as deemed appropriate.

Board of Trustees
William J. Klausner

William M. Booth

Henry B. Thompson III

Prasert Na Nakorn

Anek Srisanit

Pawapun Bunnag Booth

Advisory Board

Dawn F. Rooney
Jane Puranananda

Jean-Michel Beurdeley
Gridthiya Gaweewong
Thirabhand Chandracharoen
Supicha Peerasenee
Vipasie Smittiphong

Foundation Consultant
Jane Puranananda

The James H. W. Thompson Foundation is dedicated to the conservation and dissemination of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. Through its support of research, seminars, conferences, exhibitions and publications, the Foundation has endeavored to create a better understanding and appreciation of such traditional Thai art forms as sculpture, painting, literature, dance, song, puppetry and textiles.

It is this cultural patrimony which is at the core of Thai identity. However, Thai identity, and the culture which imbues it, are dynamic, not static. They are constantly evolving. Articulating and extolling the past and its traditions should not be at the expense of appreciating and encouraging those emergent forms of cultural expression which find their inspiration, but not their limits, in the bedrock of traditional culture. Similarly, embracing change and innovation in Thai art forms should not entail a rejection or denial of the value of Thailand’s cultural past. It has been said that “the past is the best prophet of the future.” However, the past and its traditions should not control the future but rather provide a guide to the roots and meaning, the shape and pace of change.

Jim Thompson, in creating an international market for Thai silk, appreciated the value of the past while embracing the creative energy of innovative change. The James H. W. Thompson Foundation, established in his name and infused with and fortified by his love for Thailand and its arts, will continue to both cherish the past and welcome the future.

William J. Klausner



The Foundation operates the Jim Thompson House museum, one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions. The museum, open every day, welcomes hundreds of visitors daily. Guided tours are provided in Thai, English, French, and Japanese. In recent years the Foundation has slightly rearranged the collection and rooms in the house in the interest of security and convenience of visitors. However, the Foundation has maintained a general policy of neither buying nor selling, and, thus, the collection owned by Jim Thompson has remained virtually intact. Two small buildings, formerly servants’ quarters, have been turned into additional museum display space.

Visitors’ entrance fees and other donations enable the Foundation to provide grants related to the preservation and dissemination of Thai art and culture. Grant applications must be made in writing to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The grant request should include background information about the person or institution making the request, the purpose of the grant and a proposed budget for the use of grant funds. All grantees are asked to provide progress reports and a final summary, including a financial report, upon completion. The Foundation also initiates selected seminar, exhibition and publication projects. In addition, the Foundation has provided administrative support to the newly created Thai Textile Society.


Please click to view

Construction of the Jim Thompson Center for Textiles and the Arts was completed in November 2003. The two-story steel and cement structure, with its traditional wooden façade, provides 220 square meters of secure, climate and light controlled museum and exhibition space. The Center stages exhibitions focusing on Southeast Asian textiles, costumes, art and cultural traditions. Leading art historians and academics are invited by the Foundation to serve as guest curators for the various exhibits which include loans from public and private collections.


Year Description
2004/5 Tied Together – Khmer, Lao and Thai Matmi Textiles
An exhibition showing the influences of tradition al Khmer and Lao textiles on the weaving styles, designs and techniques used in northeastern Thai textiles. Exhibition curator Professor Thiradhand Chandradharoen.
2004 Tied Together – Khmer, Lao and Thai Matmi Textiles
Exhibition catalogue discussing the history and origin of Thai Matmi textiles.
2004 Splendors of the Renaissance – Princely Attire in Italy
Exhibition of reconstructed costumes worn by the Italian nobility from the mid-15th to early 17th century. The costumes are based on portraits of Italian rulers and their consorts by famous Renaissance artists. Copies of the paintings are included in the exhibition.
2004 Splendors of the Renaissance – Princely Attire in Italy
Exhibition catalogue containing photographs of costumes and the Renaissance paintings that inspired them.
2004 Temporary Insanity
Installation of art by Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak. The exhibition included “breast stupa” silk banners; “vessel 1” and “vessel 2” cast brass forms with gold leaf; and three-dimensional, silk breast forms with sound sensors.
2004 Temporary Insanity – Pinaree Sanpitak
Exhibition catalogue containing articles by four leading modern art scholars about Asian women artists and the work of Pinaree Sanpitak.
2004 Through the Thread of Time – Southeast Asian Textiles
Editor Jane Puranananda
Publisher River Books
Compellation of articles written by the participants in a 1999 textile symposium organized by the James H W Thompson Foundation. The papers focus on the role and function of traditional textiles in the Southeast Asia.
2003 Power Dressing Lanna Shan Siam 19th Century Court Dress
Curator Dr. Susan Conway
Featuring traditional textiles, costumes and regalia loaned from public and private collections.
2003 Power Dressing Lanna Shan Siam 19th Century Court Dress
By Dr. Susan Conway
A 75-page color catalogue to accompany the exhibition
1999 Southeast Asian Textiles - Through the Thread of Time
Two-day conference on textiles with international guest experts on southeast Asian textiles delivering academic papers on the role and function of textiles in Southeast Asia.

Grantee Description

Mahidol University

Visit of Cambodian researchers to promote comparative studies of culture in both its traditional and transitional forms e.g. temple painting, ornaments, changes in use of traditional tools and implements.

Faculty of Arts

Chulalongkorn University

Conference, workshops and performances to foster better understanding between Thailand and Cambodia by bringing together scholars, musicians and dancers.

Siam Society

Publication of “Witnesses to Revolution: Siam 1688”, a collection of English language translations of French manuscripts and historical documents related to 17 th century Thai history

Academic Publication

Publication of the collected writings of Jeremias Van Vliet related to Ayutthaya in the 17th century

Institute of Asian Studies in cooperation with the International Institute of Asia Studies, Leiden/Amsterdam

An international seminar on the illicit traffic of cultural property in Southeast Asia

Thai Khadi Research Institute

Research project on the role and function of traditional Mon textiles within Mon communities in Thailand and Myanmar

Grantee Description

UNESCO, Beijing Office

Support for an indigenous PRC NGO Cultural Heritage Watch in its initiatives in cultural heritage preservation, particularly of Tai minority populations

Research Grant

The creation of an online digital archive, including a web site and web tracking program comprising published and unpublished research, field notes, lectures, maps, photographs of renowned Asian art historian, Dr. Dawn Rooney

Research Grant

Field research related to the role and function of traditional Phu Thai textiles in Thailand and Laos

Grantee Description
Srinakharinwirot University A Thai Classical Dance and Music Group performance of classical Thai dance and music in Malaysia
Siam Society A series of public lectures over a twelve month period related to Thai history and culture
Don Thi Village Wat Committee, Chiang Khong, Chiangrai The design and construction of traditional northern Lanna temple in Chiangrai. This project will help preserve traditional northern Thai architecture and construction techniques
Research Grant and Publication Field research and publication on the role and function of traditional Shan textiles

Grantee Description
Kukrit 80 Foundation Performances of the traditional Khon drama by the Khon Thammasat Troupe to commemorate the 90 th anniversary of M.R. Kukrit Pramj, its founder
Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University Seminar on Lao-Vietnamese relations with special focus on the socio-cultural dimensions of the relationship
Hun Lakorn Lek Joe Louis Puppet Troupe Reconstruction of fifty traditional puppets from the Troupe of national performing artist Sakorn Yangkiawsod after the puppets were destroyed in a fire.
Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University Seminar on Thai-Lao relations with specific reference to the role of the media