Neilson Hays Library celebrates 101st anniversary

Photo: Neilson Hays Library
Photo: Neilson Hays Library

A historic library housing thousands of English-language books in Bangkok’s Silom area will throw a one-day party to mark its 101st anniversary next month. 

After missing its centenary last year, the Neilson Hays Library will host 101 Years Strong with various activities for all ages from a story time special and exhibition to a courtyard concert.

The day will kick off at 10am with the family-friendly Special Time Story by Christina Soontornvat. The Thai-American author will read from three children books and host a few kid-focused activities such as interactive rhymes, songs, and dance. The tickets are THB300 for general admission and free for members. 

Later in the afternoon, at around 3:30pm, architect Chatpong Chuenrudeemol will lead a talk about architecture and progressive conservation. From 5pm onward, Chatpong and Christina will lead a tour through an installation that combines literary narrative with architecture. The event is free. 

In the evening, from 7pm onward, the library’s courtyard will transform into a live music venue that welcomes singer-songwriter Nop Ponchamni and The Grooveromatix Jazz Band. Attendees of the concert must purchase THB1,200 tickets in advance. All proceeds will go to support the building’s preservation and programs. 

101 Years Strong will run from 10:30am on June 11 at the Neilson Hays Library. The library is located on Surawong Road, about 1 kilometer from BTS Chong Nonsi.

The literature and architecture extravaganza dates back to 1869 when the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association was established by 13 British and American women. The library did not have a permanent location until the current building was commissioned in 1921 by American doctor T. Heyward Hays in memory of his late wife, Jennie Neilson Hays, who had been an active member of the library board. 

The library was designed in neoclassical style by Italian architect Mario Tamagno with architectural highlights like Italianate dome, symmetrical building, stucco decorative motifs, columns and teak fixtures and fittings. Many original details survive today.

Photo: Neilson Hays Library

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