Baan Dam Museum also called The Black House

The Black House is a must… if you like it a little spooky.

If you have limited time to explore Chiang Rai, you must visit the Black House, at least if you want something a little out of the ordinary.

When I walked in, the first thing I saw was this fantastic Thai-style wooden house. It looked like a traditional Thai house, but something was slightly off.

The building style puzzled me and I couldn’t place where in Thailand they built in this style. The fact that the house was black made it even more mystic and exciting.

The Black House Museum consists of many stunning wooden houses, set in a beautifully landscaped park. I could glimpse some of the houses between the trees.

They are all made in different styles, and all of them are black. I was blown away when I got inside, and I saw the table was set for crocodile.

At that moment I knew I had come to a very special place, a place where you get a glimpse into a stunning fantasy world, a creation by a great artist.

Baan Dan Back House crocodile table
There are many ways to set a table. But Baan Dam takes the prize with their crocodile style

The Black House was created by Thawan Duchanee, a fantastic artist and architect who lived from 1939 to 2014.

One of the houses was dedicated to his paintings. Yet, it was not only the paintings that were the art; the house itself was fine art. The way it was built, the sublime details I saw everywhere, and not least the absolutely fantastic roof construction.

It all testifies that Thawan Duchanee was an extraordinary architect besides being a great artist.

The Black House woodwork and interior
I got dizzy looking up and studying all the details in the roof construction. A true wow experience

There have been a lot of discussions about his pictures; some critics thought he was too demonic in his style. But eventually, everyone realized that he was creating fine art, and he was recognized as the great artist he was.

 Thawan Duchanee's pictures Black House
Here’s one of Thawan Duchanee’s pictures; I can’t judge if it’s particularly demon-like. I see scarier pictures in the news every day.

As I walked through the park, I kept seeing evidence that Thawan Duchanee was an artist who embraced very broadly.

I love gardens and have seen many amazing parks when traveling. Still, once more, I was taken away by Thawan Duchanee talent and fantasy.

The Blackhouse Park is not an ornamental garden with an abundance of flowering plants that take your breath away, in the way the Thai garden style is known for.

Instead, I got the feeling of subdued elegance, where everything was in perfect balance and harmony.

It also became clear to me that Thawan Duchanee loved working with stones.

Thawan Duchanee The Blackhouse Park
It may not be a stone arrangement that would fit into any residential garden, but a perfect fit for The Blackhouse Park.

Balance and harmony are essential to creating beauty; this is also true for landscaping.

Details; can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. But, if the details are not in perfect balance and harmony, you quickly end up with a mess, instead of exceptional.

Thawan Duchanee was a true master at creating balance and harmony with many details. No matter where I laid my eyes, I saw something that made me go wow.

The Blach house stone garden with amazing natural stones
A stone garden with unique natural stones

It’s called The Blackhouse museum, but when I visited The Blackhouse, “museum” was not the first word that popped into my mind.

Thawan Duchanee has collected many unique and extraordinary things from all parts of Thailand, mixed them with his creations, and created something special. The Blackhouse is more than a museum; it is incredible.

Inside Black house Chiang Rai
Here is an example of how Thawan Duchanee manages to bring a lot of detail into play, while still maintaining balance and harmony.

Thawan Duchanee does not explain his art; it is up to you and your imagination to decide what you look at. I like that.

The profound meaning or how art should be interpreted is very individual anyway; we all live in our own reality and see things differently.

If it pleases my eyes, the feeling I get is “wow,” and I can’t stop shooting pictures; then it’s art. The Blackhouse is precisely that.

Inside Black house Baan Dam Chiang Rai
It takes talent to display so many different objects in so little space as here without it looking messy.

There are around 40 different buildings in the 160,000 square meter park. All are wooden houses, designed by Thawan Duchanee, many of them inspired by the Lanna building style. He started the project in 1975 and worked on it constantly for the next 40 years.

Bann Dam or The Blackhouse was also home to Thawan Duchanee, he had furnished one of the houses as his bedroom.

I particularly liked that the exhibitions were spread out in the park. It gave my senses a break when I walked through the serene garden, from one show to the next.

It gave me time to digest what I had just seen, build up excitement and prepare me for the next manifestation of Thawan Duchanee’s imagination.

A bit like the pause between the courses at a gourmet restaurant. Or as the Zen saying put it. “It is the silence between the notes that makes the music.”

How to find The Blackhouse or Bann Dam

The easiest way to find The Blackhouse, or as it is called in Thai Baan Dam, is by using Google maps. It is located about 12 k from Chiang Rai city center.