Wat Mahachai Isan Regional Museum houses the permanent exhibitions about biographies of Phra Ariyanuwat and Phra Charoen Ratchadej, the history and development of Isan arts, traditional culture and customs in 12 months, as well as local wisdom. The museum consists of 3 main halls and 2 storage buildings. The details of each building are, as follow.
Wat Mahachai Isan Regional Museum is a 2-storey building which display archaeological ruins, ancient documents, art works, wood and stone sculptures, ironware, pottery from pre-historic and historic age, musical instruments, wickerwork, wooden and bronze Buddha images, sandstone and alloy figures of deities, as well as equipment used in religious ceremonies and daily life. In terms of presentation, these artifacts are categorized and arranged in several different places, e.g. window displays, shelves and platforms. Valuable items need storing in a locked steel cage to reduce loss, theft and vandalism. Almost all items are presented with information labels, while others may also have additional photos.
Phra Ariyanuwat Khemmachareenusorn Museum of Palm-leaf Buddhist Manuscripts is located on the 2nd floor of the sermon hall. Not only does it display palm-leaf manuscripts according to their classification, the exhibition also covers ancient cases containing Buddhist texts, silks embellished with tinsel for wrapping religious manuscripts, both published and unpublished Isan literary works edited from palm-leaf manuscripts by Phra Ariyanuwat Khemmacharee, as well as other related stuff. In terms of storage, palm-leaf manuscripts are kept in the most appropriate way. Texts and significant Buddhist manuscripts are arranged in the display windows. Other bulky objects, e.g. cases for Dhamma texts and shelves for religious scriptures are grouped together and placed on the floor. The museum labels and provides in-depth information regarding each of these items.
Isan Literature Conservation Center is a 2-storey buildings located east of Wat Mahachai. The exhibition inside has not fully completed. The 1st floor shows chinaware and utensils which are the temple’s valuable properties. All of them are stored in a precious ancient wooden case which belongs to the temple as well. The 2nd floor houses ashes of Phra Ariyanuwat Khemmacharee together with his personal belongings, such as his academic gown, personal documents and photographs. In addition, there are a large number of historical artifacts which are ecclesiastical materials including glassware, money, earthenware, and other utensils.
Apart from the museum, 2 storage buildings are also located within the premises of Wat Mahachai. Both of them are chambers standing adjacent to each other. The first building, formerly the Isan Cultural Center, stores large-sized archeological objects, namely Buddha images, figures of deities, sandstone Sema boundary stones, pulpits and drums. The other building mainly houses woodworks, for example gable apexes, blade-like roof projections, roof finials, parts of pulpits, building components and woodworks. It was Phra Ariyanuwat Khemmacharee who collected all these historical ruins from temples in the northeastern region.
The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9.00 am – 16.00 pm. Prior to your visit, it is necessary to contact Phra Kru Uthai Utthayo. For group visitors and further information, please call 043-725786, 089-5740322.