Apr 21 2012
I wrote about the Vietnam Women’s Museum around a year ago, just after it re-opened following extensive refurbishments. I was impressed then and remain so, particularly having visited their three current temporary exhibitions: Worshiping Mother Goddess, Women and Flowers, and Shining Night.
Shining Night is an exhibition set up by the Institute for Development & Community Health — LIGHT, with Hanoi International Women’s Club the primary sponsor. The exhibition relays the lives of migrant women (and men) working in Long Bien market through displays and personal stories.
These women leave their home towns and villages and move to Hanoi, often to earn money to support families back home. As migrant workers they suffer from social stigmas, unfair treatment in the labour market and a lack of basic services. They perform hard manual labour — working as porters, rickshaw pullers, or carriers — with little financial reward, and to add to that they often suffer from physical and even sexual abuse. LIGHT aims to empower these women through direct initiatives, such as self-help groups, and by raising awareness of their plight in order to promote the need for policies to help protect them. This exhibition particularly answers the second of these, but the women’s participation in setting up the displays has also helped promote a sense of worth. It remains open until the end of June.
On a lighter note, the art exhibition on the fifth floor, Women and Flowers, is by renowned Vietnamese artist Pham Luc. Unsurprisingly the large paintings all feature women and/or flowers. Surprisingly, the styles and media vary notably: it would be easy to assume that a number of artists had contributed. That said, most of the pieces use strong and bold colours, filling the room with a striking array of colour. Take the lift if you’re not feeling fit.
Finally, Worshiping Mother Goddess: Pure heart – beauty – joy can be found next to the Family Life section. The worship of Mother Goddess is a folk belief, still widely practiced in Vietnam today, as Mother Goddess is looked upon to offer emotional support.
The exhibition is quite beautiful. It is split into four colourful sections, each representing one of the palaces that Mother Goddess rules — Palace of heaven (red), Palace of water (white), Palace of earth (yellow) and Palace of mountains and forests (green) — and contains information about the rituals of worship, associated paraphernalia and quotes from practitioners.
All special exhibitions are free to enter with a general admission ticket.
Vietnamese Women’s Museum
36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hanoi
T: (04) 3825 9937
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