The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all over the world and across all fields and activities, especially tourism. As a corollary, the Vietnam National Museum of History - a famous destination of Vietnamese tourism - has been also heavily affected. According to the Vietnam National Museum of History's figures on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of visitors dropped by 93 percent compared to before the pandemic. This is a massive loss for the museum in terms of promoting the nation's historical and cultural values.
In order to adapt to the complicated circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining professional activities, it is necessary to adhere to the principles of disease prevention as well as the timely introduction of cultural heritages to the public. The Vietnam National Museum of History has successfully changed its course under the new normal by integrating and diversifying activities to create attractive products, bring different experiences, and contribute to attracting visitors.
1. Activities directly affected by COVID-19 pandemic
- Exhibition: This is one of the professional activities that has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. As that visitors cannot visit the museum, the museum has adapted the appropriate forms of exhibition to reach visitors, particularly for thematic exhibitions, such as extending the duration of thematic exhibitions until the epidemic be brought under control. Simultaneously, the museum has focused on developing online exhibitions, and the most recent example are two exhibitions: "Bai Coi - the rendezvous of different cultures" and "Communist Party of Vietnam - from congress to congress." In addition, the Museum is also applying modern techniques to create a 3D virtual thematic exhibition namely "National Treasures kept at the Vietnam National Museum of History" and to complete the 3D version of the entire permanent display system. These 3D exhibitions will be posted on the museum's website for a wider introduction to the public.
Education and Public relation: This is the activity that requires flexibility and numerous innovations, both during the most stressful period of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the new normal.
Educational activities: Due to the impact of the pandemic, the number of visitors dropped dramatically. However, the decrease in the number of visitors is mainly focused on foreign visitors (who generally account for over 60% of total museum visitors), whereas the majority of domestic visitors, especially students, are starting to increase again, therefore activities to serve visitors still take place as usual. In the first three months of 2021, there were 3,900 arrivals: 119 groups (3,691 arrivals) were guided, and 41 history lessons for 1,904 students were organized at the museum. In order to provide a comprehensive service that meets the needs of all visitors, the museum created Online History Lessons programs in addition to maintaining activities for museum visitors. From July 2020 to the end of 2020, the museum has organized 88 Online History Lessons for 1,370 students, including children living abroad. In the first quarter of 2021, 26 Online History Lessons for 450 pupils, including 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, have been organized in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Online History Lesson by National Museum of History
Research, plan, and organize the use of technology in the National Museum of History's introduction and display:
Developing an automatic audioguide system (audioguide) in three languages (Vietnamese, English, and Korean), as well as a QR code for permanent display: The museum has been using an automated voice-over system to introduce visitors to the permanent display system since 2014. The device's excellence (particularly with so many languages to create and install) has effectively satisfied the guiding demands of visitors. However, after many years of implementation, the museum continues to revise, update, and supplement information to meet the demands of visitors, based on effective evaluation as well as the practical needs of visitors' equipment users. Simultaneously, customers' needs are being met by broadening technology applications (handheld devices, scanning QR codes with smartphones).
Building an Discovery Space: The Vietnam National Museum of History has researched and created a Discovery Space for visitors since 2016, in order to vary activities to better serve the public. Despite its limited space and resources, the museum has attempted to implement a variety of experience and discovery activities related to the museum's prehistoric content, documents, and exhibitions. Until now, there have been two types of experience: physical (prehistoric beads; stamping patterns; printing Dong Ho paintings, posters...) and technical (learning Ngoc Lu bronze drum). However, in the face of rapid technological development, the museum has continued to collaborate with technology companies to research and update modern technological achievements in order to build an Experience Space (in the East garden of the museum) to serve and attract visitors when the epidemic situation stabilizes and visitors return. The experience's content will feature unique objects, collections, or themed exhibits, all of which will be presented using current technology (360 degrees, virtual 3D/4D, etc.) with the purpose of giving visitors a new perspective on the artifacts preserved and displayed in the museum. Because of its attraction, in accordance with trends and integration, this is a vital activity in every museum to suit the needs of tourists, particularly the younger generation.
Creating long-term tourism products: The Vietnam National Museum of History, in partnership with the Hanoi Travel Association and the VGREEN Sustainable Tourism Club, developed a series of VGREEN CARAVAN activities to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic's third outbreak. This is a method of traveling in small groups by self-driving cars, in which visitors will have unique road experiences while being extremely safe in light of the ongoing epidemic. With a variety of relevant activities to give solutions for developing and building high-quality, distinctive, and sustainable tourism products based on historical and cultural assets, businesses will have an advantage in marketing tourism when the economy and spiritual life of the people are improving day by day. As a result, tourism firms play a critical role in the development and creation of various products, allowing for the easy transmission of historical and cultural values to tourists in a soft, appealing, and widespread manner. Because it protects a huge and exceptionally rich legacy volume, including numerous museums national objects and collections of unique and rare artifacts, the National Museum of History is the red address chosen as the first partner of the trip industry. On the basis of historical and cultural knowledge gained at the museum, visitors can contribute to making the journey to the next site more engaging and profound. In the first and second quarters of 2021, after approximately two months of coordination, investigation, survey, and production of programs and materials, the National Museum of History undertook research to construct narration and experiential activities "One hour as a citizen", "Transforming into a prehistoric man" for the tour "VGREEN CARAVAN Northwest-Ban bloom season" that are departed from the NMH on the 12th of every month. The trip "Return to the Origin - Sacred Land of the Ancestors" which was deployed before and during the Hung Kings Anniversary, was followed by the development of explanatory information and experiences (March 10, lunar calendar, 2021). The tour "Nam Dinh Caravan - The Journey to Discover Son Nam Land" is now in the works, with plans to develop material and programming... Every Saturday and Sunday, in particular, the city tour "French architecture in Hanoi's heart" is offered. This is a trip that connects the National Museum of History, the Hanoi Opera House, and the Northern Historical Site of the North, where the contents of sightseeing and experience are linked, introducing architectural qualities at low prices historical and cultural values. The tour's unique feature is that it connects three attractions, allowing visitors to get a better sense of the outstanding value of architectural works, architectural styles, and interactions that blend and assimilate Vietnamese culture with Western culture in the early twentieth century, while also connecting events and artifacts on display at the National Museum of Vietnam. Not only from an architectural standpoint, but also from the perspective of a historical event that produces a panorama to aid tourists in gaining a deeper understanding as well as new sensations during the journey.
Ceremony of signing the memorandum of cooperation in organizing tours, at the Museum of History National history March 12, 2021
Northwest Caravan tourist convoy - Blooming season departs from VNMH on March 12, 2021
Communication: Due to the extended COVID-19 outbreak and the prohibition of large gatherings, the museum's communication and advertising activities have been reduced in number and form of expression. The number of news and articles on written and online newspapers about the museum activities decreased by 50%, and the number of news agencies coming to exploit materials for communication decreased by 70%. The implementation of outdoor promotional activities such as hanging banners, posters, handing out leaflets at museums, hotels, airports... or scientific seminars and tourdays for the public cannot take place.
On the other hand, communication channels through social networks are strongly enhanced and implemented as followings:
Communication and promotion via the Volunteer Club's Facebook page, where approximately 11,000 people have interacted so far. After three hours of posting information, Winter Tourday 2020 had more than 100 registrations, although pre-pandemic Tourdays generally have 50-60 persons registered.
The Volunteers Club arranges training sessions, explains the display system to new volunteers, prepares for the Summer Tourday event, and gives student lectures in order to attract young people to the museum.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vietnam National Museum of History's website is thought to be beneficial. In the midst of the pandemic and travel limitations, virtual museums and online museums are not only a way to connect visitors and scholars with museums, but also a growing trend for museums to become more accessible to the public, addressing sightseeing and online research demands. To reduce technology obsolescence, the Museum collaborated with a partner to develop a technology software application to update new apps to replace outdated technology (Adobe Flash) on the Website to assist 3D online visitors. On average, the Museum publishes roughly 70 articles on three pages every month on its website in Vietnamese, English, and French. In comparison to before the epidemic, average monthly access is around 1 million times, a 20-30% increase. In categories such as museum activities, monographs, foreign archeology, domestic news, foreign news, and especially news about VGreen tour programs - Sustainable tourism originating from the National Museum of History, the highest number of readers accessing each article is about 800 times/article per month.
While the pandemic continues, communication operations in Hanoi are focused on researching and developing high-quality communication goods, as well as promoting communication work aimed at domestic tourists and prioritizing the organization of public communication.
International cooperation: The COVID-19 epidemic has had a direct impact on the Vietnam National Museum of History's foreign collaboration operations, and many activities have had to be changed to fit the new scenario. Signing programs of cooperation; sending delegations to international scientific conferences and seminars; organizing archaeological excavations; and displaying and preserving artifacts… Signing a 5-year cooperation agreement (2020-2025) with the Institute of Cultural Heritage Research National Sea of Korea; organizing, signing the handover, and packing online artifacts between the National Museum of History and Gwangju National Museum (Korea) for the display "Vietnamese ceramic culture flow" in Korea for two years (11/2020 - 11/2022). In particular, the organization of bringing artifacts abroad for display is usually done very methodically, scientifically and strictly to ensure absolute safety for the artifacts, so the museum and its partners always respect and implement it. As a result, the collaboration in coordinating the display and handover of online artifacts to assure safety and efficiency is a huge success, and it ushers in a new age of international cooperation activities, which the National Museum of History is the first to undertake.
Director - Dr. Nguyen Van Doan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korea National Marine Cultural Heritage Research Institute
Mrs. Kim Yeon Soo - Director of the Korea National Marine Cultural Heritage Research Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Museum of History
When the COVID-19 epidemic situation in the country was gradually under control, the Vietnam National Museum of History has gradually returned to a new situation but still ensures safety to prevent the epidemic such as: Welcoming and working with the delegation US Embassy to the museum to study 18th and 19th century lacquered furniture of North Vietnam, June 2020; The Indian Cultural Center in Hanoi visited the museum to share information, film and photograph Buddhist objects and documents in preparation for the project "Buddhist Link between India and Vietnam." March 2021, "Male."Continue exchanging information with ASEAN embassies in Hanoi in order to collect and receive traditional ASEAN costumes; communicate information with museums, international agencies, and organizations in order to coordinate efforts. Take part in international online seminars and presentations at the same time.In the coming time, due to the complicated developments of the COVID-19 epidemic, the National Museum of History will focus on adjusting and redirecting appropriate activities such as:
Maintain cooperative partnerships with other nations' agencies and museums by improving exchanges, working hours, and electronic transactions so that agreed cooperation programs and contents are not disrupted. Progress and efficiency are ensured by the outcomes.
Promote activities in the sectors of research, document exchange, academics, publishing, and so on, while concentrating on research and developing content and programs so that when countries stabilize and cooperation comes to the new normal, they will be ready.
Building a new cooperation method: combining electronic transactions and direct exchanges and exchanges in accordance with specific conditions and requirements to realize effective and economical cooperation.
Dr. Nguyen Van Doan - Director of the National Museum of History worked with representatives of the Indian Embassy and Swami Vivekanandaf Cultural Center (India)
2. Activities indirectly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic
Research and collecting
After more than a half-year of suspension due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the research and collecting work has been resumed. The museum's experts have been presented in different regions across the country, conducting surveys and excavations at important historical relics, such as Thac Hai site in Dak Lak province, Binh Long pagoda in Bac Giang province, Kiep Bac temple in Hai Duong province, and participated in survey and exploration of ancient shipwrecks off the islands of Con Dao, Ba Ria - Vung Tau province.
Especially, the museum experts also timely approached and collected documents and artifacts related to the COVID-19 epidemic in the North, the Central and the South.
The National Museum of History "Preliminary report on excavation results of Thac Hai archaeological site" at Dak Lak Museum on May 7, 2021
Document & artifacts management
The museum has concentrated on recording, digitizing records and artifacts for administration and display, as well as promoting the worth of artifacts, in addition to maintaining regular professional activities; Implementing a program to digitize original artifact collections as a foundation and premise for innovation, "improvement of display quality and efficiency," and heritage preservation; researching, appraising, verifying, and supplementing information, and completing the records of artifact management to form collections or collections of artifacts by subject or material. Consolidate and organize the base warehouse's scientific relics. Create a database, document management software, and artifacts for the National Museum of History; Research on scientific tasks for digitalization: “Building a collection of Champa cultural artifacts”; "Building a collection of royal treasures of the Nguyen Dynasty"; "Building a collection of artifacts, badges, medals, and medals (period 1945-present)"; "Building a collection of documents and artifacts during the Vietnam subsidy period (1976-1986)".
Arrangement and construction of the topography of the National Museum of History's Document Repository
Documenting papers and photographs has also been applied as a foundation for constructing a Digital Library over time, specifically:
Scanning and editing photos, papers, and publications, and importing them into film management software and digital library software for exploitation; Cataloging on library management software with computer input; Scientific research projects include “Collecting photographs of President Ho Chi Minh from 1945 to 1969” and “Bibliography of Dong Son bronze drums,” both of which are housed at the National History Museum Library.
These are critical phases in creating a digital database for museum activities, particularly technology-based activities aimed at promoting the worth of documents and artifacts, as well as researching and exploiting the museum's collections. The museum's target audience includes individuals, organizations, the general public, and readers. Documentation, particularly the digitization of documents and artifacts to build a database, is considered a foundation, core, top priority, and should be deployed first in order to effectively apply technology in activities of exploiting and promoting heritage.
Managing the apparatus for managing artifacts, as well as the creation of scientific records for the Collection of royal treasures of the Nguyen Dynasty at the National Museum of History
The progression of the COVID-19 epidemic has and will strongly effect on the museum's operations in particular, as well as the lives of the entire society in general, particularly the country's economic development challenges. The Vietnam National Museum of History is one of the units directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on funding from the state budget for operations, from the museum's revenue, but completely circumstances should not impede efforts to proactively adapt and restore operations to the new normal. The cooperation with units in the manner of support, cooperation, and sharing is emphasized, particularly on activities such as display, introduction, education, experience, and interaction. This is not simply a response to the long-running COVID-19 outbreak, but also an unavoidable trend, creating favorable conditions for people who cannot or will not be able to visit the museum, which continues to introduce and exhibit. The public can see and learn about the importance of cultural heritage.
However, in order to effectively implement this direction of activity, first of all, the museum needs to focus on training and fostering expertise and skills for staff in the direction of new activities, and at the same time, coordinate with other agencies and organizations. Application of technology in exhibitions and showcases to promote the digitization of documents and artifacts. Furthermore, the National Museum of History must continue to modernize in accordance with contemporary practice and the overall development trend of modern museums (application of technology, digitization, and digitization). In addition to the museum's other activities, including as research, archaeological digs, document and artifact management and preservation, education, communication, and international cooperation.
The Vietnam National Museum of History