The Museum of Vietnamese History, also known as the Bao Tang Lich Su, is a treasure trove rich in the country’s most prized artifacts. The museum houses various items starting from its ancient times more than 300,000 thousand years ago up to the 1930’s when the Communist Party of Vietnam was founded.
The museum was built in 1929 and was originally called the “Musee Blanchard de La Bosse”. Up until year 1956, it was renamed to the Saigon National Museum. By 1975 and after a few hefty renovations, the museum expanded and was officially named the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Vietnamese History.
The pagoda-like structure houses a clear picture of the different eras in Vietnam’s history. The museum’s exhibits are carefully divided into the following topics making it an ease to look around and be educated in: The Rise of the Hung Kings; the Fight for Independence during the 1st-10th Century; the Ly Dynasty during the 11th-13th Century; the Tran Dynasty during the 13th-14th Century; the Le Dynasty during the 15th to 18th Century; the Tay Son Dynasty during the 18th to 19th Century and the Nguyen Dynasty that started in the 19th Century up to the middle of the 20th Century.
The museum also displays specific characteristics unique to the Southern Vietnam area such as tokens from the Oc-Eo culture, the Mekong Delta ancient culture, and the ethnic minorities of Vietnam with their costumes and household implements. Aside from that, much focus is given to the country’s culture and art through the years with an excellent selection of Cham art and sculptures, an impressive collection of ancient ceramics in Vietnam, the art of the Ben Nghe Saigon, garments and jewelry from the Nguyen Dynasty and the ancient pottery of many Asian countries.
One of the most striking and unforgettable displays would be a Roman coin from the 2nd Century, a mummy from 1869, a beautiful Phoenix head from the Tran Dynasty and the bronze drums belonging to the Dong Son civilization. Also, with Vietnam’s extensive war history, weaponry used during the 14th Century onward is on display with more than a yard full of nothing but cannons that were used through the centuries.
Visitors of the museum will be happy to know that most of the explanations are in English, something often missing in most Vietnamese museums. A short and daily scheduled water puppet show is also available for tourists who want to watch the ancient yet highly entertaining famous water puppets of Vietnam.
The Vietnamese History Museum is found along Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. It is located in close proximity to the Saigon Zoo and Botanic Gardens, making it an ideal setting for a relaxing meander in Ho Chi Minh City.
It is indeed spectacular to think that such elaborate care was given to such items to the rich and colorful history of Vietnam. Being able to see such exhibits at the Museum of Vietnamese History will certainly open a newfound appreciation of the profound history of the Vietnamese.