Photo: The art is not just on the walls.

Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum

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Established in 1987, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum houses works of art by Vietnamese artists on three floors, each floor representing its own section.

Sponsored placement.

The French colonial-era building itself is a work of art. The mansion was constructed in 1929 to 1934 by real estate moguls Hui Bon Hoa, one of the wealthiest family empires of Cochinchina. It was designed by the same French architect who had designed their Majestic Hotel. Upon entering, take a moment to admire the wrought iron scroll work with “HBH”. Some of the features of the building, such as the elevator, are original while the tiles and stained glass are later additions.

The building itself is impressive. Photo taken in or around Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

The building itself is impressive. Photo: Cindy Fan

The first floor is home to a variety of pieces, most of which are small sketches or paintings of famous Communist figures. The second floor is dedicated to works of 20th century and contemporary Vietnamese artists, including a collection of modern sculpture, examples of propaganda and an impressive collection of lacquer art. On the top floor (which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Hoa’s daughter) are examples of art created from the seventh through to the 20th centuries and pieces of Cham, Khmer and Oc Eo art.

We highly recommend Sophie’s Art Tour, which will bring the museum and Vietnam’s history to life. The half day tour explains 20th and 21st century Vietnam through the lens of art, focussing on key works housed in the museum. Beyond the canvas, the deeper meaning, the literal and figurative picture of the socio-political climate, is revealed.

Progress. Photo taken in or around Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Progress. Photo: Stuart McDonald

You don’t need to be an art snob to appreciate the works and the building. Someone who has an interest in art may be able to trace how the classical training at the colonial Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine in Hanoi has influenced modern Vietnamese art.

The North Vietnamese combat art, where artists were literally sent to the front lines armed with pen and paper, will be a stark contrast to the US military photography you’ve likely seen in history books or at the War Remnants Museum. But do Sophie’s Art Tour if you can, as the museum has little signage or information on the art or artist. The tour includes several different galleries.

Quite the signature, Photo taken in or around Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Quite the signature, Photo: Cindy Fan

The museum is not air-conditioned and the heat can be stifling so going earlier is more comfortable temperature-wise. Also note that there is no working lift.



Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum
97A Pho Duc Chinh St, Nguyen Thai Binh, District 1
Tu–Su: 9:00–17:00
T: (08) 3829 4441 
Admission: 10,000 dong

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