THE RENOVATION OF THE OLD YELLOW BUILDING THAT ONCE HOUSED THE OPERATIONS OF A PHARMACY LOCATED ON SUE PA INTERSECTION HAS GIVEN BIRTH TO THE ‘BERLIN PHARMACEUTICAL MUSEUM BANGKOK.’
The name ‘Berlin Pharmaceutical’ doesn’t exactly have any direct connection with the city of Berlin in Germany as the designation originated in commemoration of a German professor who taught lessons in western medicine to the company’s founder, Doctor Chai Chainuvati M.D. when he was a student at Tongii Medical School in Shanghai. Nevertheless, the story behind the foundation of the clinic and modern pharmaceutical factory in the middle of a Chinese neighborhood during the transitioning time of Thailand’s political landscape in 1932 sounds anything but ordinary.
During the end of last year, the renovation of the old yellow building that once housed the operations of a pharmacy located on Sue Pa intersection gave birth to ‘Berlin Pharmaceutical Museum Bangkok.’ The project has Gridthiya Gaweewong, artistic director of The Jim Thompson Art Center, as the curatorial consultant. The content exhibited on the first floor gallery space ranges from the history of the Chua family and the ancestors of the ‘Chainuvati’ family to Dr. Chai’s profile and information regarding the foundation of Berlin Pharmaceutical. What’s impressive about the content in addition to the display of different items such as an opium pillow or old documents is the simulation of the examination room and drug room from back in the days when the clinic first opened for operation. The decoration includes the use of original furniture such as a table, chairs, stools, examination bed and even the drug cabinet used to display the notebook where Dr. Chai wrote down the original formulas for his medicines, recreating the time when the clinic and the store were open for business. Unfortunately, the last portion of the content about the transition of the business into Berlin Pharmaceutical Industry Company Limited today isn’t featured in a corresponding mood with the overall exhibition due to the attempt to put too much focus on the technology behind the company’s manufacturing machines. Nevertheless, the next project that is about to happen in the space, such as the idea to open an actual drugstore at the entrance of the museum, sounds like an interesting plan for a souvenir shop of a pharmaceutical museum.
TEXT: PAPHOP KERDSUP