Pavilion of Siam: Interior

There were three access areas to the Pavilion of Siam: from the foot-bridge crossing the river Po, from the embankment along the same side of the river, and from the terrace that connected the Pavilion of Siam with the contiguous pavilions on the right bank.

The left wing gallery was accessible from a portal surmounted by a shield with "Siam" written in white letters on a red background, and two Siamese flags on each side.

The gallery gave access to the first hall, the walls of which were upholstered in green and the ceiling decorated with polychrome designs and gildings. In a niche above the entrance was the national flag. In the areas in between the windows hung white and gold disks representing the sun. This hall was used for the Siamese Education Department displays (textbooks, student work, drawings etc.). The hall also contained a photographic display of the Siamese State Railway showing "the lines, stations, iron and concrete bridges, and landscape views of several parts of the country through which the locomotive now rushes triumphantly" (Gerini lvi). On another side of the hall, a "native loom for silk-weaving is mounted ready for work. It is in rosewood of the traditional type [. . .] and cannot fail to arouse curiosity and interest" (Gerini lvi). Gerini's description, as well as the actual make-up of the hall, underscore the typical ideological agenda of World's Fairs of creating an organic and umproblematic balance between tradition and progress, techology and craftsmanship.

The Central Hall was, naturally, the most majestic and richly decorated. Gerini describes it thus: "The hall is upholstered in old-gold satinette. From a chackra or symbolic wheel at the top of the lofty ceiling eight festoons of green foliage, interspersed with multicoloured blossoms, hng in graceful curves towards the four corners of the hall, to which they are tied by ribbons in the national colours (white and red). In several ogival niches high up are placed golden images of the Bhuddha in the various postures in which he is traditionally represented.[. . .] On the wall facing the main entrance and on either side of the central niche, two royal Siamese flags are displayed with the royal coat of arms consisting od a tripartite shield surmounted by the chakra wheel with the tident, and above this, by way of crest, by the conical Mongkut, or royal crown; all this among two white c'hattra, or symbolic seven-tiered umbrellas, on a dark-blue ground" (Garini lvii-lviii).

The Central Hall hosted the opening ceremony for the Pavilion, whihc took place on May 27, 1911, and included more than three hundred guests. The ceremony began shortly after 10:00 a.m. with speeches by Colonel Gerini, Secondo Frola, and Antonio Bianchi. The typically progress-bound and Eurocentric rhetoric of the Exhibitions is evident in Bianchi's comments: "The far outlying Siam, kindly joining with us in the celebration of our national jubilee, successfully put in evidence the high standars of civilization she has reached, which is such to place her abreast of the most progressive conutries of our Old Europe" (cited in Gerini 276-77).

The niche of honor, in the middle of the wall facng the Pavilion's main entrance, contained a life-size photo of the recently-deceased King Chulalongkorn, with portaits of other royal family members, and a profusion of garlands and exotic plants. This hall mostly contained displays of arts and crafts such as richly inlaid cabinets, basket works, screens, etc. There was also a display of gems and minerals, but the main piece of this hall was the central showcase, a square structure, tapering slightly toward the top, surmounted by a pyramidal spire almost as high as the ceiling. Inside, one could admire theatrical masks, jewelry, and silverplated goblets, trays, plates, inlaid with ornamental motifs.

The right-hand side hall (B) hosted the exhibits of industry, agriculture, and commerce. Displays were devoted the cultivation of rice, cereals, spices, tobacco, oilseed; to fishing and forestry. The cases in the middle of the hall contained samples of Siamese silk fabrics of different designs and colors.

The right-hand gallery featured model sailing-crafts and a pottery exhibit.