Public Lecture: Dvaravati: What Was It Then, What Is It to Us Now

In conjunction with the Dvaravati exhibition at the Bangkok National Museum, John Toomey will give a lecture at the Siam Society on October 1 and conduct a special tour of the collection on October 3.

Dvaravati: What Was It Then, What Is It to Us Now
Date: 01 October 2009
Venue: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

The 24 National Museums of Thailand hold the world’s largest collection of the art of the ancient Indianized Dvaravati culture. Earlier this year the Fine Arts Department of Thailand lent a large number of the most important pieces in the collections for a special exhibit at the Muse? Guimet in Paris, France, this last spring. After an extended stay there, all of the Dvaravati works have returned and are now shown at the Issaravinitchai Throne Hall at the National Museum Bangkok, under the title DVARAVATI ART The Early Buddhist Art of Thailand, organized by the French Embassy as part of this year’s La Fete.

But what was Dvaravati and what are the hallmarks of the especially joyful and earthy style of this pre-Thai culture’s art? In this presentation Siam Society member John Toomey, who has had a long-time passion for Dvaravati art and culture and has researched this topic in recent years, will help us toward an understanding of Dvaravati’s role in the history of Thailand and how to appreciate its unique artistic expression. This talk will focus on the pieces in the current special Dvaravati exhibit at the National Museum Bangkok. Further, on October 3, Mr. Toomey, on behalf of the Siam Society will guide a special free tour of the exhibit at the National Museum.

After taking degrees from Roosevelt U. (MAT), and DePaul U. (MA Eng) while teaching in Chicago, Mr. Toomey taught world history, arts and humanities for the US Department of Defense Overseas Dependents Schools in Japan, Korea and Germany. After studying Far Eastern Art at Sophia U. in Tokyo, he studied Japanese and Korean languages and took teacher’s certificates in Japanese and Korean tea and Japanese traditional music. In 2005 he retired from teaching to make a modest tea complex and tea garden near Bangkok, and devote himself to the study of Far Eastern and South East Asian arts.

For more information, please telephone Khun Arunsri at

(02) 661 6470-7, fax (02) 258 3491, or e-mail: info@siam-society.org

Non-Members expect to contribute Bt200 each. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student I.D. cards are admitted free of charge.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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