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National Museum of Vietnamese History

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The National Museum of Vietnamese History is spread across two sites; Site One is set in a stunning colonial-era building and houses some simply beautiful historically important exhibits, while Site Two (on Tran Quang Khai), which was formerly known as the Vietnam Museum of Revolution, is less compelling, but still worth a spin through.





The star of the two locations is Site One, which until a few years ago was what the National Museum of Vietnamese History referred to alone. Covering Vietnam’s prehistory through to the Nguyen dynasty in 1945, it’s set in a magnificent example of Indochinese architecture, which was until 1910 the French consulate and residence of the governor general.

One of the exhibition areas, with some bronze drums in the foreground. Photo taken in or around National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

One of the exhibition areas, with some bronze drums in the foreground. Photo: Samantha Brown

The building was also home to the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient (EFEO), during which time it became a museum to exhibit EFEO finds. Over time the building deteriorated, and it was not until the early 1930s, following a seven-year renovation, that what you can see now was realised. The entrance gives on to an impressive two-storey rotunda with exhibits all around and in many galleries to the rear.

As of 2017, the main permanent exhibition is 18 pieces dating from the seventh to 20th centuries and selected by Vietnam’s prime minister to be "national treasures". They included bronze drums, Champa stellae, a Tran dynasty-era bell and Ho Chi Minh’s prison diary; we particularly loved the "Statue of a panpipe-playing couple piggybacking", from the Dong Son era (circa 2,500 BC), and selected as a treasure in 2012.

Pan-pipe players, an ancient Vietnamese national treasure. Photo taken in or around National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Pan-pipe players, an ancient Vietnamese national treasure. Photo: Samantha Brown

Aside from the permanent exhibition, the ground floor traces Vietnam’s ancient history, from the first Neolithic finds through to those of the 15th century. Some items date back as far as 10,000 BC and exhibits feature more than just the requisite pottery shards and axe heads.

The jewellery, tools and household items archaeologists have unearthed—along with human and animal remains—paint a compelling picture of the people who inhabited the region long ago, and provide a sense of how they are tied to Vietnam’s modern inhabitants. (We loved the jewellery. Sometimes it’s the little details that bring history home, like imagining a woman wearing a necklack 4,000 years ago that’s not too far off what a woman might ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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National Museum of Vietnamese History
1 Trang Tien St and 216 Tran Quang Khai St, Hanoi
Daily 08:00-12:00, 13:30-17:30. Closed first Monday of the month.
T: (04) 3825 2853 
banbientap@baotanglichsu.vn
http://www.baotanglichsu.vn/
Admission: 40,000 dong for access to both sites

Location map for National Museum of Vietnamese History

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