Most museums and monuments – both national and international have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic and have faced numerous difficulties and challenges. At the same time, there is a rising demand in visiting and learning about museums and monuments. So, how do you meet the public's needs while also maintaining the museum's activities? That is the current difficulty and challenge for nearly 170 museums(1) across the country.
On the occasion of International Museum Day 2021, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) released the message: "The Future of Museums: Recover and Recreate". Accordingly, museums need to strengthen cooperation, share experiences or ways to create new values for cultural heritage, as well as propose solutions and new operating models in the context of COVID-19(2). In 2021, the Vietnam National Museum of History (VNMH) is going to adjust, diversify, and innovate professional activities to create connections, meet needs and provide meaningful experiences to the public. In particular, education is one of the most prominent activities of the museum.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hoan – Deputy Director of the VNMH – participated in the International Online Museum Conference on May 20, 2021.
1. Diversifying the content and form of educational programs
Over the years, the VNMH's educational activities have become the museum's "brand," with the model of Club "I love History" and "Lesson History" at the museum for students from high schools, universities and military academies. When the COVID-19 epidemic appeared and broke out in Vietnam in early 2020, the museum was forced to temporarily close due to the social distancing policy of the Government, which means that the programs are no longer available. In order to quickly "adapt" to the situation at the time, since April 2020, the VNMH has researched and tested the form of "Online History Lesson" via the Zoom application and received positive feedback from students, parents, and teachers. At this point, the content of educational programs was focused on constructing, exploiting, and experimenting with ancient and medieval Vietnamese history (from the prehistory to the Nguyen dynasty, 19th - 20th centuries). Students will be able to participate in the closing Gala at the VNMH after each online course of 5 to 10 sessions on the following topics: Vietnam History Progress; The Ancient Capital of Vietnam; Learn about typical Vietnamese historical figures... (when the COVID-19 epidemic is temporarily stabilized and the Museum reopens). This is an opportunity for the VNMH's teachers and education executive to meet and interact directly with each other. Coming to the closing Gala, the children had the opportunity to admire and observe the unique artifacts and collections on display at the VNMH, things that they had previously only seen through pictures and heard about in online classes before. More specifically, during the closing Gala, the children will receive cute little gifts corresponding to the 10 stars they had earned in previous online lessons.
The children participated in a VNMH-organized Online history lesson program
Entering 2021, in the context that the COVID-19 epidemic is temporarily under control, the VNMH continues to organize educational programs and direct experiences at the museum for students in two blocks, School and Family, while also maintaining the organization of the program "Online History Lessons" for young people who have not had the opportunity to visit the museum and study. According to statistics from the first six months of 2021, the VNMH has organized 94 history lessons for 4,756 students at the museum and 90 online history lessons for 650 students(3). Simultaneously, the VNMH has actively researched and developed new educational programs, expanded the scope to the early modern and modern periods in Vietnamese history (from the early twentieth century to the present). Besides, the VNMH has focused on investing in research and improving the quality of content and form of the programs in order to create new and appealing educational products that meet the needs of the public.
Graph of the VNMH's educational program
The year 2021 is marked by a number of significant anniversaries: 90 years since the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union was founded (March 26, 1931 - March 26, 2021); 80 years since the Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneers Team was founded; 110 years since Uncle Ho left to find a way to save the country (June 5, 1911 - June 5, 2021). That was the reason, and the original idea, for the VNMH's Department of Education and the Public to begin researching and developing a new educational program for elementary school students called "Heroic role models".The program consists of 5 lessons associated with 5 topics to learn about typical heroic examples as teenagers and children such as: Kim Dong, Vo Thi Sau, Ly Tu Trong, Nguyen Ba Ngoc,... who have sacrificed and devoted their entire youth to the spring of the country, contributing part of their efforts to the cause of national liberation struggle, unify the country.
Educational program "Heroic role models" for elementary students
The appeal of this program stems not only from the content associated with historical figures that children have known, heard, and studied in school, but also from the attractive content, concise and concise manner in which it is conveyed. The analysis and lecture interfaces are designed vividly and attractively in four major sections: Historical Figures, Historical Stories, Historical Artifacts, and Historical Relics... to assist students in understanding and remembering historical figures. At the end of the program, there are experiential games with intellectual competition questions related to the theme of the lesson, which are built, designed to be lively, attractive, and appropriate for the ages of the children.
The program "Kim Dong: Learn about Historical Figures" and the experience game "Little Communication Soldier"
The program "Online History Lessons" titled "Heroic role models" has been completed and put into operation, serving and meeting the needs of students right after the school year ends during the summer break. Because the COVID-19 epidemic is still complicated, they must now stay at home instead of going to museums, sightseeing, picnics, or vacations... as they did during the previous summer vacations. Despite the fact that it has only been teaching since June 2021, with two topics: "Kim Dong: Learn about Historical Figures" and “Hero Ly Tu Trong”, the VNMH has received positive effects and feedbacks from students and parents has resulted in a large number of registrations for the program, and the children are eagerly awaiting their turn to participate in interesting and useful "Online History Lessons" organized and carried out by the educational staff of the VNMH.
To sign up for the Museum's free "Online History Lessons," call 024.3.8257753 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Introducing the online exhibition
In order to adapt to the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining professional activities, the museum has made appropriate changes to meet the needs of the public. Thematic exhibitions are not only extended in duration but also introduced to the public through online form, and the most recent example are two exhibitions: “Bai Coi – the rendezvous of cultures culture” and “Communist Party of Vietnam - From the Congress to the Congress"”.
The VNMH staff meticulously and elaborately implements online thematic exhibitions, from the development of content, scripts, and explanations to the selection of shooting angles for each space/array, display cabinet/exhibits,... The VNMH wishes to bring to the public experiences/discoveries, impressions and feelings about artifacts/heritage through specialized displays with an online theme, with the warm voice of the museum educators themselves and English subtitles, combined with 3D images of unique artifacts and a very vivid and realistic display space, even though it is not possible to visit directly at the Museum.
VNMH cadres hosting the online thematic exhibition "Bai Coi – the rendezvous of different cultures"
The online thematic exhibition "Bai Coi - the rendezvous of different cultures" has now been completed and made available to the public via the museum's website. Through engaging storytelling such as "What is Bai Coi site?"; "Awakening the Bai Coi site"; "Mysteries in the Jar burials"; "Artifacts that tell stories: Bai Coi - the rendezvous of different cultures" or "Unique jewelry from Bai Coi",... The mysteries of the Bai Coi site from more than 2000 years ago in Vietnam have been deciphered through unique and valuable artifacts and collections on display at the VNMH. Hopefully, the online exhibition "Bai Coi - the rendezvous of different cultures" will introduce new and interesting discoveries and experiences to the public. You can easily reach this exhibition by visiting the VNMH's online website at:
The online thematic exhibition "Bai Coi - A Meeting Place of Cultures" has been finished and made available to the public
In addition to improving the quality of the content and form of educational programs, and introducing online thematic exhibitions, the VHMH is urgently digitizing materials in order to create qualified and attractive exhibitions and educational products for the public.
A part of the permanent display system and some thematic exhibitions are introduced alongside the 3D Virtual Museum: Vietnam in prehistoric times; Vietnam during its period of nation-building Vietnam during the dynasties of Ngo, Dinh, Tien Le, Ly, and Tran; Oc Eo - Phu Nam Culture; Thematic: Vietnamese Antique Lamps; Thematic: Vietnamese Buddhist Cultural Heritage has been implemented and put into public service since 2013. Currently, the VNMH is urgently researching, developing content, updating the application of modern technology, and digitizing 20 National treasures, as well as preparing to trial a 3D virtual thematic exhibition "National treasure" to serve the public(4). Following the completion of the museum digitization project, the museum is currently updating content, technology, building and completing 3D digitization of all artifacts, collecting artifacts, and permanent displays at the permanent display system, and online introduction at Website http://baotanglich.vn to promote more widely to domestic and international audiences.
VNMH cadres and partner units worked together to digitize all artifacts at the permanent display system
As a result, it is clear that promoting technology application, diversifying, and constantly innovating museum activities to connect, create connections, and bring museums closer to the public is the solution that many national and international museums are actively implementing. The renovation, diversification of forms, and improvement of the content of the VNMH's educational activities, in particular, have once again demonstrated the museum's adaptive efforts in effectively renovating the museum's activities to best meet the needs of the public in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source of information:
(1) Department of Cultural Heritage statistics for 2020.
(2) Source: https://culture360.asef.org/resources/unesco-and-icom-new-research-impact-covid-19-shutdown-museums-worldwide/
(3) Annual educational activity statistics at the VNMH.
National museum of history