This museum is not for the faint hearted! Siriraj Medical Museum houses some confronting and gruesome exhibits. If you’ve had enough of all the pretty temples and shopping malls and are looking for the kind of museum you probably won’t find back home (and you want a story to tell when you get home), then visit this unique museum in the heart of Bangkok.
The Siriraj Medical Museum, appropriately nicknamed the ‘Museum of Death’, is located within the grounds of Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok’s oldest hospital.
The museum consists of six small medical museums: a museum of the history of Thai medicine, the Ellis Pathological Museum, the Congdon Anatomical Museum, the Sood Sangvichien Prehistoric Museum and Laboratory, a Parasitology Museum and the Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum. The Siriraj Medical Museum remains a valuable resource for medical professionals and students alike. The most visited museums are obviously the creepier ones, being the pathology, anatomical and forensic museums.
The Pathology Museum
The first pathology room displays babies affected by genetic disorders, each preserved in formaldehyde. It’s disturbing but they look unreal enough to maintain a sense of scientific curiosity.
The Parasitology Museum
A room dedicated to all kinds of parasites, their origin, and how they affect human organs. Not very exciting but for a collection of incredibly long tape worms and a 35kg elephantiasis affected human testicle. You’ll also see some plastic snakes, spiders and parasites in some old vivariums.
The Forensic Museum
Things get intense in the Songkran Nyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum. The forensic room features the preserved bodies of accident victims, murderers and the dried body of Si Ouey, the first known serial killer (and cannibal) in modern Thai history who murdered and ate more than 30 children in the 1950s. Apparently the purpose of displaying the body standing in a booth is to be a deterrent against violent crimes. Si Ouey has become a bit of a Thai bogeyman with his name used to scare misbehaving children. ‘Behave yourself or Si Ouey will come for you!’
The Anatomical Museum
The next building houses the Congdon Anatomical Museum, where a set of creaky old stairs takes you up to the third floor and seemingly back in time. Faded portraits and dark passageways seem to come from another century. There are rows of old glass and wooden cabinets containing skeletons and dissected bodies of adults and children. Body parts and genetic anomalies are preserved in jars of formaldehyde. On display is a masterful dissection of the human body’s entire nervous and arterial system, the one and only exhibit of its kind anywhere.
The Prehistoric Museum
Visitors are taken back to prehistoric civilization by displaying pieces of a Homo Erectus skeleton found in Thailand, known as ‘Lampang man’. He lived approximately 1,000,000 – 400,000 years ago, making him a contemporary of ‘Peking man’. On display are tools from three ancient ages, the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic ages, as well as beads, colorful stones and painted earthenware.
Things to remember about a visit to Siriraj Medical Museum
- Please refrain from eating and drinking inside the museum
- Photography inside the museum is prohibited
- Ask for the history lesson connected to the case of eight skulls with bullet holes in their foreheads
- Many of the displays in this museum may not be appropriate for children
- Many of the displays in this museum may not be appropriate for pregnant women
- Most of the signage is in Thai and the audio guides can be unreliable. It’s essential you have a guide to make the most of the visit and learn as much as you can
Siriraj Medical Museum can be visited every day of the week (except Tuesdays) from 9:30am until 5pm.
Admission Price: Adults are 200 baht and children are 25 baht.
While there is a lot of historical knowledge to to be gained by visiting the Siriraj Medical Museum, more squeamish history buffs may appreciate some of Bangkok’s other, less morbid, sites: