Battered by Corona, 130-Yr-Old Antique Museum to Shut Down

PHITSANULOK — A museum located at a 130-year-old wooden mansion will bar its doors for good on Sunday after a series of financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nithit Thanachutiweeranan, the fourth generation owner of the Baan Boran (“Ancient House”) museum in Phitsanulok, said he could no longer afford to keep the place running due to the lack of tourists.  The house will open to visitors for the last time this weekend. 

“Because of the economy and COVID-19, for the last four to five months I’ve had no tourists or visitors,” Nithit said. “Some days I get only 30 baht from selling a cup of coffee. I can’t go on.”

Nithit, a 38-year-old former air force officer, decided to renovate his ancestral home as a museum and cafe in January. He said the house was abandoned and fell into disrepair after the previous owner, Sanat Umpaipong, died at 79 in June 2019.  

Advertisement

The museum is a two-storey, hexagonal structure made from teak. Nithit said before the house was built in an auspicious octagonal structure, as his Chinese ancestors believed that eight was a number of prosperity. 

“This is the last beautiful house like this in Thailand, not the last one in Phitsanulok only. I didn’t want it to be torn down and then only appreciated after. I wanted lots of people to see it,” Nithit said. 

The mansion was built around 1890 by Pa Som Nui Sae-Tae, a Chinese merchant, Nithit said. His son Kungpao Umpaipong, whom Nithit counts as the first-generation owner, was born in 1905. 

It has eight rooms, three staircases, and is filled with vintage furniture and memorabilia. One object of interest is an embroidered tapestry from China more than a century old showing women in a garden. Another is a jade bowl, also from China, about the same age. 

Nithit said he tried asking tourism authorities to help publicize the museum, but the plea went unheard. 

“I wanted it to be known nationwide, but everything went quiet. I tried to build a community tourist spot, but I’ve reached the end of the road,” Nithit said. 

Advertisement

Baan Boran is located in Bang Rakam district in Phitsanulok and will be open every day through Sunday before closing permanently. The museum is open 8am to 8pm. 

To get there, go into the soi with the Susco gas station. Across from Bang Rakam Wittaya Suksa School will be a sign saying “Baan Boran” and the house is 300 meters from there, right next to the Yom River.