U Thant’s residence during 1951-57 was rediscovered by his family in 2012 and, after extensive renovations opened in 2016 as a centre for learning and dialogue and a museum featuring a permanent exhibition of his life and work.
No. 31 Windermere Crescent: Part of a collection of houses known as the Windermere Estate, the house at no. 31 Panwa Lane (originally 31 Windermere Crescent) was built in the 1920s to house British officials during the colonial period. After independence, the estate was used for high-ranking officials of the Burmese government. U Thant lived here with his wife and children from 1951 to 1957 when he was serving as Secretary to Prime Minister U Nu, whose official residence was nearby. It was his last residence in the country before he moved to New York to become Burma’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Rediscovery & Renovation: Tracing the old address, U Thant’s family found his former residence in 2012; uninhabited and semi-derelict. The family established U Thant House Trust as a registered Myanmar non-governmental organization, and leased the house from the Government of Myanmar. Over 2013-15, the house and grounds were extensively renovated with the help of the Yangon Heritage Trust, the assistance of dozens of professional architects, engineers, designers, and the generous in-kind and financial support of private citizens and local companies.
U Thant Exhibition: In January 2016, a permanent exhibition entitled “U Thant, His life and Legacy” was launched and U Thant House opened to the public as a museum three days per week. Set within the rooms U Thant lived and worked in, the exhibition covers his early life, work, and varied accomplishments. Visitors can explore Myanmar and Cold War history through photographs, newsreels, and books on topics from Myanmar’s early post-independence years to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. In U Thant’s spirit, it is hoped that his former home will continue to serve the community and the public, as a source of inspiration for visitors in Myanmar and from around the world.
Dialogue & Discussion: Over just a few short years, U Thant House has established a broad-based support in Myanmar, hosting individuals and groups from across the political spectrum as well as international figures and scholars from around the world and developed an education programme tailored to Myanmar students. We have also established an online presence comprising two websites (one specifically for U Thant House and another focussed on Myanmar history), as well as a significant social media following.