The Bangkok Seashell Museum
There is nothing I love more than discovering an offbeat and quirky surprise in a city I love. Take New York City: forget the MOMA, I’d rather to go to MoSex! So you can’t imagine how excited I was when, while cruising through Bangkok’s Siam district, I spotted a seashell museum out the window.
Did you know such a thing existed, anywhere in the world? I didn’t! Lucky for me my friends Zoe and Tom were willing to detour our day for a bit of spontaneous undersea adventure. Even more luckily for me, Tom went to high school in Bangkok and speaks great Thai, therefore managing to wrangle us a great discount on 200 baht admission fee.
As soon as we entered I was struck by how modern and well designed the museum was. I guess I was expecting a dusty old shell-hoarder’s basement? But no, the 3,000 specimens of more than 600 species that live here are housed in a way that would make any design nerd’s heart swell.
In fact, I was often torn between what to admire first. The alien-like, color-bursting, pattern-happy shells?
Or the quirky, creative, and fun ways in which the museum displayed them?
The museum was more than just a feast for the eyes, though. Informative displays in both Thai and English explained amazing stories about different varieties of shells, like these conch that are turned into a kind of musical instrument/spiritual symbol used in ceremonies in French Polynesia. You can see how the shell goes from its natural state at bottom right to a more polished and gleaming version at left.
Eventually, that same brown shell you see above becomes the work of art you see below.
Another display was about the fascinating phenomenon of Carrier Shells, which covered, or “self-decorated,” with other shells, coral pieces, stones, etc. The shells are attached dead, though according to the display, there is an account of a live kitten’s paw being attached at an aquarium!
We even spotted a pretty hilarious cultural oddity on one beautiful poster about freshwater gastropods. See it, at bottom left?
We looked a little closer, and couldn’t contain our laughter when we saw the tiny smily face (^_^) on an otherwise very professional display. Oh, Asia, I love you.
And actually, the funny signs didn’t end there. I nearly died when I went to the bathroom and found these printouts taped to each door.
Hilarious signage aside, this museum is a true hidden jem in Bangkok. I’ve never seen it in a single guidebook or mentioned on any blog. And it’s amazing! And I don’t think it’s just my diving that made me so in love with the place. Zoe and Tom (who granted, have tried diving now too) were also totally enthralled. If you love the oceans, love good design, simply can’t look at another temple, or are just in need of a good dose of the bizarre, come check out my new Bangkok find.
The Bangkok Seashell Museum is short walk from the Surasak sky train station, at the corner of Silom 23 near Leardsin Hospital. They are open everyday from 10am-8pm. Call 022340291 for more details.
How did they display the flamingo tongue with the animals film wrapped around the shell? Painted on? My technical question may be absurd but Ive never seen those shells displayed with the brightly covered film the animal wraps around its little house! The museum looks beautiful.
You know I’m not really sure… maybe they found a way to preserve it when they collected the specimen? It was definitely a museum you would enjoy!
What a quirky-awesome place! Looks like fun (^_^)
Ha I love my quirky!
Love your posts. Keep them coming. I’ll never get there, but certainly wish I could. Best wishes to you and Mark.
Thanks Gram! Love ya back!
Can I just say that I love the fact that your Grandma comments on your posts? That is awesome.
That aside, this museum actually looks pretty awesome…definitely a unique find. Thanks for sharing!
Both my Grandmas are Alex in Wanderland subscribers, believe it or not! Tech-saavy must run in my family!
What a fun find! I went to a strange “pineapple farm” in Japan that ended up being at least half a seashell museum, which was pretty bizarre. And there’s a totally weird “toilet museum” here in Korea that is in a giant toilet-shaped house! Weird museums are the best 🙂
Okay, the toilet museum I just might have to see for myself someday… sounds awesome!
Haha, it was actually kind of lame. But it was good for some laughs! I wrote about it, if you want to check it out:
Do you planning on hitting up Northern Asia in your travels?
Omg that is amazing… especially the little glass poos!? Ha!
Won’t be making it anywhere North of Chiang Mai on this trip, I’m afraid. Luckily there is a long life ahead!
Sooo the seashells were sweet.. But I was distracted by the melding of two strange fashions.. Mom jeans, no, mom shorts meets Boy George meets Prince. Had to poke fun at those pants. 😉
Zoe has a style all her own 🙂 She fits in well here in Asia with the quirky modern fashions!
thanks for the good story. I visited the seashell museum a while back and never got enough time to post the story. Anyway it’s now done and we’ll publish it soon. I’m also a big fan of the weird and fun Bangkok and I did find so many fascinating places!
Such a fun little museum, glad you loved it as well!