1. The Vietnam National Museum of History (VNMH) was established (pursuant to Decision 1674/QĐ –TTg dated 26/9/2011) by merging the two former museums, the Museum of Vietnamese History and the Museum of Vietnamese Revolution. It has 16 specialized divisions and 250 staff, mainly bachelors, 3 doctors, 41 MA, 7 post graduated and tens of master students. The museum has been fulfilling its personnel organization to grow up as a historical and cultural researching and educational center.
The museum's exhibition building at 1 Trang Tien, Hanoi
2. The VNMH inherits the two previous museum's properties and experiences of over a half of century including gains and losses in the management and curation. The museum owns around 200.000 objects and documents dating back pre-history to the present. Of which, many are ancient antiquities and recognized as national treasures. Namely, the collections of golden books, seals, swords, Dong Son culture collection, Champa culture collection, ceramic wares, foreign collections of China, Japan, Thailand, India, Myanmar..., the 20th century objects of Vietnamese people, collections on the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh...
3. In the past, there were few museums in Vietnam (1960). However, it has been growing up very fast. Now, Vietnam has 144 museums, of which, there are 6 national museums, others are at provincial level and private museums. But this number is quite small if we compare with others in the world. China has 3.800 museums, South Korea has over 330 museums, Japan has over 5.600 museums, USA has 17.500 museums and Germany has 6.500 museums... In the world, lots of museums are old (300-400 years). While in Vietnam, most of them are young (born in 1980s, 1990s). Thus, they lack experiences and almost can not meet the demands for museological activities, for example, human resources and budget. The investment made for the museum's building physically is more than that for the content of the exhibition. Many have to use the existing buildings but without built in purpose for serving as museum. Museum's activities therefore, focused more in the forms but less in the content.
4. As a biggest museum in Vietnam, the VNMH museum has renovated its activities to meet the challenges in the new era. Initially, the museum has gained fruits on the activities of archaeological researching, investigation and excavation; organizing the exhibitions locally and internationally; publication and seminar, conservation, education and carrying out a big scaled project to build new building of VNMH museum in West Lake district.
VNMH is one of three biggest archaeological centers in Vietnam. In the past few years, it has involved in discovering and excavating activities, particularly, for Dong Son and Pre Dong Son periods. The museum's archaeologists are pioneers in studying the shape boat buried ritual of Dong Son culture. Some of our fact findings have been regarded as important records and used in archaeological books for teaching. Many excavated objects have been secured and be displayed in the exhibitions.
VNMH is the only institute who is carrying out the underwater excavations in Vietnam. Many shipwrecks have been excavated under the collaborations between the museum and experts including local and foreign ones. Namely, Hon Cau (Ba Ria – Vung Tau), Cu Lao Cham (Quang Nam)...
Many big scaled excavations have been done, such as Sa Huynh Bai Coi burial relic (Ha Tinh), Ly dynasty relic in Nam Dinh province, Champa in Da Nang province. It is co-operating with foreign partners for implementing archaeological projects including Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Museum, Sichuan Archaeological Institute, Shaanxi Archaeological Institute and upcoming National Museum of China (China); Kyushu Museum (Japan).
5. Our permanent exhibitions are frequently renovated with new information and collections. We are going to furnish the core exhibition galleries and outdoor exhibitions in a style of academic but modern and fascinating by high technology applications that may meet the demand of the visitors.
Visitors at the VNMH Museum, 1 Trang Tien
Visitors at the VNMH Museum, 216 Tran Quang Khai
VNMH has annually opened tens of temporary exhibitions. We have co-operated with museums across the country, with associations and private collectors to do so. Many exhibitions have been recognized as Royal Treasures, Dragons on Antiquities, Marine Culture Heritage of Vietnam, Vietnamese Antiquities...
Particularly, VNMH is one of few Vietnamese national museums who have organized successfully foreign exhibitions. It helps to promote Vietnam country and people to the world, especially, to provide international community a right perspective and opinions on Vietnamese history and culture.
6. The preservation of artifacts have been attached importance and invested. We have preserved successfully many different objects. Many collections of special materials have been processed by highest technology and met the standards regulated by ICOM. People know it is uneasy to preserve in hot and moisture weather like Vietnam. So, preservative studying results made by VNMH can be applied to other museums. We also consult and do service for many museums and relics in the country. Besides, many preservative and reproductive and training projects have been implemented under the collaborations and supports from international organizations including USA, Dutch, Japan, South Korea and Belgium. Hopefully, VNMH will be equipped with a preservatory center - a hospital for artifact preservation and reproduction.
7. The educational and training programs for human resources are paid attention. The museum has sent its staff for post graduation in local and overseas. The museum's exhibition galleries and preservatory stores are regarded as a kind of university of students and scholars in Vietnam and foreigners. Though VNMH has not become an educational center but many staffs are guest lecturers to universities.
A course of paper preservation
8. The VNMH has established the co-operative relations with international museums and researching institutes and organizations bilaterally and multilaterally for mutual benefits and development. We have relations with China, South Korea, Japan, Laos, Philippine, France, Belgium, Dutch, UK, USA, Russia, Australia...
Signing MOU of archaeological excavations between VNMH and East Asia University (Japan)
VNMH received many foreign colleagues each year and vice versa, sending staff to oversea for studying and training. Through the exchanges and co-operative projects, the museum's staff got chances to approach updating curatorial methodology.
As a founding member of ANMA (Asian National Museums Association), VNMH was appointed as Chair of ANMA for term 2012-2013. It hosted the 4th ANMA's Conference in October 2013 in Hanoi. The success of the conference is an opportunity for VNMH to raise its position and prestige of a leading national museum of Vietnam in the international arena.
The 4th Conference of ANMA
It has been 3 years from the establishment. VNMH has managed to stabilize its organization and personnel, working out strategy and plan for renovating the exhibition content and form, collecting items and implementing co-operative programs with local and international museums. With our efforts and the supports and co-operations from colleagues and relevant organizations, we believe that the VNMH will successfully perform the roles of a leading museum in Vietnam.
Dr. Nguyen Van Cuong (Director of VNMH Museum)
EN: Trần Trang