The Kaysone Phomvihane Museum is an imposing edifice to commemorate Laos‘s great revolutionary leader and previous President, Kaysone Phomvihane. The museum is administered by the Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party or LPRP. The museum, which was erected in December of 2000, is even located in front of the committee’s compounds.
Kaysone was born in Savannakhet in 1920. He then became an active revolutionary while he was studying in Hanoi during the 1940s. He was a significant instrument during the setting up of the LPRP in the northern Laos region of Samnuea in 1955. In the years that followed, he led a great communist force against the Americans. Upon achieving victory, he then served as the Prime Minster of the newly founded Laos in year 1972 to 1991 up until he was appointed President. Sadly, he died the following year after his first year of presidency.
The museum was erected in his honor according to a monumental style with proper financial assistance from Vietnam. The museum’s exterior is heavily influenced by traditional Lao style but its interiors are strongly reminiscent of the Ho Chi Minh Museum found in Hanoi, Vietnam. The structure has two stories. The upper level has a central statue hall with surrounding exhibition rooms filled with dioramas and displays of the great man’s life and career. It revolves around his contribution in the context of Lao Revolutionary History. The lower level, on the other hand, is filled with meeting rooms and other facilities for visiting school and community groups. A souvenir shop is found near its main entrance that sells books, leaflets and souvenirs.
After visiting the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, it might be a good idea to head to the Former President Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Museum Historical Area as well. Here is where the ex-president used to live from 1975 to 1978. From 1978 until his death in 1992, he and his family were provided a house near the Lao People’s Army Museum. He continued to work and stayed at his former home. After he died, the area was restored and opened to the public in 1994 during the ex-leader’s birthday. It is located about a kilometer away from the museum and serves as a tribute to the pragmatic communist leader of the country.
Unfortunately, most displays have no English or French translations. Most guides are for Lao-speaking visitors only so tourists have the option of hiring a translator to learn more about the former president’s life and works. Make sure to call the local English-speaking guide in advance and arrange for him to meet you at a specified time and date. Such guides have necessary clearances to be arranged at the gate so calling prior to your visit is a must.
Kaysone’s old house is an original model of the leader’s modesty suggesting that he lived in a world less luxurious than those of other world leaders. The museum is a vast Vietnamese-inspired celebration of the man. Although he never encouraged such grand gestures, the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum and Memorial is certainly a great way for the country to give back to the hero that changed Laos for the better.