Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi - Rusty Compass travel blog

Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi

| 18 Jan 2010
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18 Jan 2010

Housed in one of Vietnam's most spectacular pieces of French era architecture, the Museum of Vietnamese History exhibits the finest collection of artefacts from Vietnam's ancient and more recent history. If Hanoi's other museums have overwhelmed you with propaganda and war, this museum will come as a welcome relief both with its delightful setting and its superb collection.

Concentrating on Vietnam's pre - twentieth century evolution, the presentation is refreshingly contemporary although exhibits lack context and detailed information in English.

Museum highlights include a collection of Dong Son drums, artefacts from central Vietnam's Cham kingdom as well as costumes and other pieces from Vietnam's last royal dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty.

Dong Son Drum - Vietnamese History Museum Hanoi
Photo: Mark BowyerDong Son Drum - Vietnamese History Museum Hanoi
The Bronze Age Dong Son civilisation flourished around Thanh Hoa province not far from Hanoi for 1000 years from around 1200BC and their stunning drums depict life and nature of the time using advanced casting techniques. The Dong Son drum is frequently used as a contemporary symbol of Vietnamese culture and civilisation.

The Cham kingdom existed across central and southern Vietnam until its last territories were annexed by the Vietnamese at the beginning of the 19th century. The ethnically Malay Polynesian Chams created a vast kingdom rich in culture. The Museum of Vietnamese History contains a good collection of Cham artefacts. Remarkably, a good many of these are outside in the elements in the car park.

Photo: Mark BowyerFrom the extensive Cham collection
The museum also houses pieces from Vietnam's royal dynasties - the most extensive being from the final Nguyen Dynasty which ended in 1945.

The Museum's collection is impressive but a good guide is essential if you want to make full sense of it.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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