Friday, November 11, 2011

Thailand: Hall of Opium

The Hall of Opium museum was very incredible and a surprise to be full of modern technology and all the new fashions for museums. The whole thing was interactive with movies and sounds. It was really educational and certainly worth a visit.

While the lives and cultures of the hill tribes and the opium production and trade of The Golden Triangle are inter-related, the approach adopted for the exhibition has been to present these inter-related aspects of the opium story as two distinct and separate elements. This important distinction is made to highlight the fact that opium is essentially an economic crop. It is not an intrinsic element of the indigenous culture. This therefore makes it easier to address and resolve. A walk through the 5,600 sq-metre world-class exhibition area within the Hall of Opium highlights different aspects on the subject of "Opium". Every step of the way, the information presented through the dramatic use of state-of-the-art multimedia innovation is vivid and poignant. The use of engaging audio-visual presentations and interactive displays, coupled with dynamic spatial design, work together to enlighten and provoke thought.  This $10-million project took a decade to build and is backed by the royalty-sponsored Mae Fah Luang Foundation. Carved into a grassy hillside and a series of caves, it is near the town of Chiang Saen in the formerly drug-ravaged area known as the Golden Triangle. Exhibits span centuries and continents and use opium as a lens through which to view the last 300 years of Asian history. Scholarly displays examine the botanical aspects of the opium poppy flower, the Opium Wars and colonialism, the legal opium trade in old Siam, even antique smoking paraphernalia and a mock-up of an old British East India Clipper. The final series of chambers is dedicated to the heroin addiction of modern times, done up in graphic black-and-whites, and houses a poster gallery of drug campaigns across the world. The Hall of Opium stays with you long after your first encounter.

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