In 2012, Thai telecoms tycoon Boonchai Bencharongkul opened his Museum of Contemporary Art (Moca) in vast, custom-built premises on the northern outskirts of Bangkok. With about 20,000 square metres of exhibition space, it is Thailand ’s biggest private museum by far and a valuable resource for anyone interested in Thai art history. The museum is accessible in terms of its affordable entrance fee – 250 baht (US$8) for adults – and its opening hours (open all week except Mondays), but the out-of-the-way location means it wasn’t exactly packed during The Collector’s recent visit. Last year, it received a modest 62,000 visitors, 80 per cent of whom were from overseas and, like us, may have had trouble finding the place. Getting there is about to get easier. A train route connecting Bang Sue MRT station to Don Mueang international airport is due to open at the end of the year, and one of its stations, Bang Khen, is within walking distance of Moca. Boonchai’s 31-year-old son, Kanachai “Kit” Bencharongkul, who has been in charge of Moca’s day-to-day operations since 2018, is preparing for a new chapter for the family institute. “The new station means it will be easier for touriststo come to Moca,” he says. “We hope the train will start in time for the opening of the Bangkok Art Biennale [on October 10]. We are going to have a few cool shows then.” Kit is also keen to broaden the appeal of a private museum dictated by his father’s taste in art and how it should be displayed. Boonchai, the founder of mobile phone network Total Access Communicationand head of the Benchachinda conglomerate, favours paintings and sculptures by academic artists influenced by Silpa Bhirasri, the Italian founder of the country’s first art school (now Silpakorn University), including Chalood Nimsamer, Khien Yimsiri and Paitun Muangsomboon, whose work is displayed in permanent galleries on the ground floor.Boonchai also likes modern and contemporary Buddhist art. (He is not prudish, however; there are plenty of female nudes.) The cavernous space eliminates the need to be selective. Before Thai artist Thawan Duchanee died, in 2014, Boonchai promised the museum would keep an entire floor for his paintings. In other areas, the lack of highlighting means the sheer quantity of works on display is simply overwhelming. “I want to keep my dad’s decision to preserve traditional and conservative concepts of Buddhism, and for the museum to be a guardian of how Thai art has evolved in the past 100 years. But these are not artworks that I, or people of my generation, would buy. In time, I will bring more contemporary pieces in different media and broaden the spectrum,” Kit says. He will have free rein over a new in-town gallery opening next month. “This is going to be quite different from the museum as the art will reflect more of what I like. And I am going to take some of these artists back to Moca, too,” he says. It will be run as a commercial gallery, located on the ground floor of the new Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River. As with many family concerns where the founding parent looms large, the scion has had to fight hard for change. “It is tricky,” he says. “Moca Bangkok is my father’s vision and it is rare that we agree. I like more contemporary, abstract and conceptual art. He is all about what’s classical and traditional.” One of Kit’s favourite artists is ceramicist Nino Sarabutra, whose Raining (2017) is on show at Moca. It is a darkened room filled with small, porcelain hearts hanging from the ceiling that the audience walks through. She made the work soon after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016, in honour of his “Royal Rain” cloud-seeding initiative to bring relief to farmers hit by droughts in Thailand. The Thai artist will be the first to have a solo exhibition at the new Four Seasons gallery. As a work, Raining is safe, inoffensive and perhaps indicative of how Kit intends to broaden the museum’s appeal. As many private museums in the region mature, their owners are giving more thought to audience numbers and financial sustainability, and Moca is no exception. “We are looking for sponsorship and may also rent out sections of the museum for high-quality exhibitions. With the arrival of the new biennales in Thailand , the country has certainly become more aware of the art world and we hope that lots more people will be willing to support private museums,” Kit says. “We also want to partner with overseas museums, such as the ones in Hong Kong and Singapore, and bring their shows over or loan our pieces to their exhibitions.” It is a lot to take on, but if Moca wants to attract a younger, wider audience then Kit is the ideal ambassador. Blessed with film-starlooks, the fashion photographer has more than a quarter of a million Instagram followers and he has just embarked on a new career as a pop singer. His jaunty 2018 single, Long Distance , has been viewed more than 1.3 million times on YouTube. If he can get his fans to become regular visitors to Moca, it would utterly transform the museum’s demographics and vibe.