Last update: 08:00 | 16/08/2015
VietNamNet Bridge – Museums in Vietnam have become a hot topic after the local media reported about plans for the VND11 trillion National History Museum project in Hanoi and the HCM City Museum project in HCM City.
While people are paying attention to the huge capital required for these projects, experts question whether the museums have enough artifacts to display.
Many museums, few visitors
The HCM City Museum, located in the History – Culture Park in Long Binh Ward, District 9 will cover 15.45 hectares.
Why does the city wants to build a new museum although it has had the municipal museum on Ly Tu Trong Road? Le Ton Thanh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Culture, said that HCM City plans to develop toward the east. The new museum will be built in the city’s east to await this trend. The museum must be modern, from its design to display. In the future, the Southern Natural Museum will also be built in the district to create a complex of museums.
The HCM City Museum will be one of the latest museums contributing to a total of 147 museums in Vietnam today.
Since 2005, Vietnam has had 32 new museums, including those with huge investment, for example the Hanoi Museum worth more than VND3 trillion in Hanoi, the Museum of Quang Ninh Province worth VND900 billion. However, the largest ever museum project in Vietnam is the National History Museum with the estimated cost of up to VND11,277 billion.
However, it is a paradox that the more museums are built, the fewer visitors they attract.
Of the seven museums managed by the HCM City Department of Culture, the War Remnants Museum is the busiest, with around 2,000 visitors/day during the peak season. The other museums have a small numbers of visitors, averaging several hundred visitors per day.
The newly opened museums are in a worse situation. The Vietnam Literature Museum which opened in Hanoi in late May has only several visitors a day.
The Hanoi Museum, the country’s largest and most expensive museum, welcomes dozens of visitors/day. The museum staff said it was only crowded during holidays or at the end of school year.
Lack of artifacts
For HCM City, several museums do not have sufficient space to display their collections, for example, the Vietnam History Museum and the War Remnants Museum. The city wants to build the new museum to deal with this problem.
However, most of other museums do not have enough artifacts for display. The Hanoi Museum is a typical example.
After five years of operation, the first and second floors of this museum are empty. The items displayed on the 3rd and 4th floor are sparse and simple. The most eye-catching zone is the collection of a private collector Mr. Vu Tan.
The discrepancy between the appearance of museums and the inside content was pointed out by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh: "If we invest VND1 in the appearance of museums, we just spend VND0.3-0.5 in their contents.”
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Huy - Former Director of the Vietnam Ethnology Museum, a member of the National Cultural Heritage Council, said that the biggest mistake was the plan for museum building.
Huy said museums are cultural works but they are not built by cultural agencies. As a result, after the museums are built, they do not fit with the content on display.
Huy cited the Hanoi Museum and Quang Ninh Museum as examples. The first was built by the Hanoi Construction Department and the second by the Quang Ninh Province Cultural Work Management Board. Both museums need improvement to fit the contents on display.
The question of when the VND11.27 trillion National History Museum will be built has not been finalised.
Dr. Nguyen Van Huy said: "In my opinion, we should not talk a lot about the money. A museum worth thousands of billion dong is worthy to be built if it has attractive contents. For the National History Museum, if we do not change the construction mechanism, it will exist under the same circumstances as the Hanoi Museum, and that would be a big waste."