Vietnamese Women's Museum, Hanoi - review by Rusty Compass
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Vietnamese Women's Museum, Hanoi

| 16 Nov 2011
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Vietnamese Women's Museum, Hanoi
36 Ly Thuong Kiet St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
0800 - 1600 Every day except Monday

Map
Our rating
16 Nov 2011

The newly renovated Women’s Museum is one of Hanoi’s best in terms of contemporary curation and story telling. This is less about objects and more about presentation. And its subject matter, the amazing women of Vietnam, makes it well worth a visit. Recommended.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The Women’s Union of Vietnam is a powerful institution in the country’s political, cultural and social life. It’s survived under various names since the early days of the movement for liberation from French colonialism. These days it’s active in women’s health, education and professional advancement throughout Vietnam.

The recently refurbished Women’s Museum, run by the Women’s Union, is a tribute to the role Vietnam’s women have played in history and continue to play in contemporary life.

You could spend a long time trying to work out how exactly gender politics play out in Vietnam. At so many levels this is still a powerfully patriarchal system. Yet at every turn and throughout Vietnamese history, there are ample exceptions that defy rigid interpretation. Whether you’re watching mothers with kids, women in the rice paddies, staff in a restaurant or hotel, business leaders, or studying history, Vietnam’s women make their mark. And this museum is all about them.

The collection runs over 5 floors and includes material on Hanoi’s women street vendors, marriage and family life, as well as displays on the role of women in Vietnam’s wars against the French and the US backed South Vietnamese Government. The top floor is devoted to women’s fashion and includes variations on the traditional Vietnamese ao dai as well as ethnic minority costumes.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits on issues relating to women in Vietnam.

The Women’s Museum is one of Hanoi’s best. It features simple, compelling exhibits and has plenty of English captioning. The people behind the museum - presumably women - could be very usefully deployed in upgrading other museums and tourist sights around the capital and the country.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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