For some people, there’s a kind of fantasy about the role of the archaeologist. It could be the idea of being in an adventure, like Indiana Jones. For others, it could be the esteem given to such people who present prehistoric findings and display them proudly at museums of history. This is one of those museums that has that feel and one that still displays pieces of history in a building constructed under French rule.
The first thing to notice is the fascinating architecture of the museum itself. It was once a specialist centre for East Asian Archelogy. It the French School of Archelogy as well. There is a pagoda-shaped construction which is blended into a French Colonial style symmetrical structure. It was designed by architect Hebrard and has built-in double walls and balconies to allow for natural air ventilation around the museum. After ownership changed in 1958, the Government of Vietnam kept the building exterior and converted the interior into a museum displaying various periods of history in the nation of Vietnam.
The exhibits are arranged with the order of time and are curated into five main sections. A prehistoric section covers a period from 40,000-5,000 years ago. There is a section dedicated to further understanding of how the culture and nation of Vietnam came into identity. A further exhibit includes Vietnamese history until the revolution in August 1945. The Champa treasure holds an exhibit and there is a guest exhibit for any partnership or mutual agreements with other museums.
There are over 200,000 artefacts on display at this museum. Some of the more notable ornaments are the sculpture of the Goddess of Mercy, Quan Am, and Bronze Age tools in addition to ancient Cham period pieces. Recent findings have been displayed which have been excavated from shipwrecks around Vietnam’s coastline.
This is the biggest display of history in Vietnam. It is in the design of an East-Asian French Colonial Building. There’s a lot to learn and many photos to be taken here. Only a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake.
The National Museum of Vietnamese History is located at 216 Duong Tran Quang Khai, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Openings hours are 08:00-12:00, 13:30-17:00, Tues-Sat.