Vietnam has a total of 54 ethnic groups, which for the most part tend to disperse into the mainstream culture unless you visit ethnic majority areas, such as Sapa. This museum aims to enlighten the visitor about life within ethnic minorities. The design represents the shape of the Tay Minority Dong Son Drum. It was designed by Ha Duc Linh, a member of the Tay ethnic group.
The design is symbolic in showing that many of the ethnic minorities come from the rivers across Vietnam. In the museum, there are various artworks created from metalwork, carpentry and textiles created by various ethnic groups. Some are treasured objects that hold symbolic traditions to various groups. Most are everyday objects used in homes, work and places of study by each ethnic group. There are baskets, tools and other items such as pipes and blankets on display.
Other exhibits display various items used in celebrations such as weddings, and other spiritual gatherings, which other deeper insight into the ways of life of different minority groups. Looking at the artwork will show a few familiar designs that have been incorporated into the mainstream culture of the country today.
There are replicas of different styles of ethnic houses in the gardens. Stilt houses and Viet houses are available to be seen outside in addition to a variety of garden styles that identify with various ethnic groups. The grounds are wide-reaching, yet the displays are simple enough to explore and a lot of new things are there to be explored.
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is located at Nguyen Van Huyen, Quan Hoa, around 8km from the City Centre of Hanoi. Opening hours are 08:30-17:30, Tues-Sun. Closed on Mondays.