The former home-turned-museum of “silk king” Jim Thompson has long drawn visitors for its traditional Thai architecture and impressive collection of Southeast Asian art. But the leafy canal-side compound—recently rechristened as the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter—now has even more to offer. Firstly, there’s a biographical exhibition space that charts Thompson’s trajectory from a young architect in the United States to his service with the OSS spy agency during World War II to his postwar relocation to Bangkok, where he established the Thai silk company that now bears his name—almost singlehandedly reviving the local silk-weaving industry along the way. An adjacent gallery celebrates the company’s achievements in the wake of its founder’s mysterious disappearance in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia back in 1967.
Downstairs, the full line of elegant Jim Thompson apparel and accessories is stocked in a store whose brick floors and cinnabar-hued walls pay tribute to the reddish facades of the old teakwood houses that Thompson reassembled on this site in the late 1950s. Apart from the existing Silk Café, visitors can nibble on Thai tapas on a balcony overlooking the central courtyard, while a revamped restaurant and OSS-themed speakeasy bar are in the works. What’s more, the neighboring Jim Thompson Art Center, which debuted in late 2021 in a boldly brutalist building, contains two exhibition rooms, a library, and a rooftop terrace. —Christopher P. Hill