The Man Himself

The Extraordinary Life of James H.W. Thompson.

Opening Hour

  • 10.00AM-06.00PM

To most people, Jim Thompson is an enigma - a mystery that remains unsolved. But just as intriguing as his disappearance is to the world, his life was no less extraordinary. The Man Himself Exhibition offers the audience a glimpse into the fascinating story of James H.W. Thompson, from his youth up until the last day that he was seen.

James H.W. Thompson was born in 1906 in Greenville, Delaware in the United States. During 61 years of his life, he had seen and done more than most would have ever imagined. Not only did Jim train as an architect, but he also served in the National Guard and worked for the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA) when World War II broke out. Although his service took him to many far-flung places around the world, he found his home here in Thailand.

Over time, his fascination with silk began to grow and he steadily built a close relationship with a small community of weavers called Ban Krua. They introduced him to various silk production techniques and he worked tirelessly to preserve the local traditions and the weaving culture of the community. He would later build his place of residence just across the canal so he could visit the weavers daily.

Following the success that Jim had while showcasing Thai silk in New York, the demand for the material grew exponentially which gave him the perfect opportunity to open his first retail shop on Surawong Road in Bangkok. The flagship store is a landmark of its own and is still open to this day for guests to visit and shop for Jim Thompson products.

On March 26th 1967, Jim went for a walk while vacationing in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and was never seen again. The incident shocked the world and despite extensive search operations, their efforts were to no avail. Speculations grew but whether it was kidnapping, assassination, tiger attack or simply a stroke of bad luck - what really happened to Jim Thompson remains a mystery to this day.

Visit to learn more about Jim's story.

Uncover the life of the “Silk King” who built the company that transformed the silk weaving traditions into a thriving modern enterprise.