Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Located on a land area of nearly 2 hectares and opened in 1978, Ho Chi Minh City Museum is the only museum displaying artifacts, photos and documents about history, culture, economy of Ho Chi Minh City as well as Vietnam in 10 rooms. With French architecture, this is one of the most beautiful museums and has been a favorite place to take great photos, especially wedding photos in Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City Museum is one of Top 12 museums in Ho Chi Minh City and worth a visit.

General information

Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00 daily

Location: 65 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The museum is surrounded by the streets of Ly Tu Trong, Pasteur, Le Thanh Ton, and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. It is only a few hundred meters from Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace or Saigon Notre Dame Cathedal.

Entrance fee: 30,000 VND/adult; free for children under 6 years old; Wedding photograph: 400,000 VND/a couple; Camera: 20,000 VND; Car parking fee: 35,000 VND; Motorbike parking fee: 5,000 VND

Website: http://www.hcmc-museum.edu.vn/en-us/home-page.aspx

Email: baotangtphcm@gmail.com

Phone: +84 28 38 299 741

History

The construction of the museum building was started in 1885 and completed in 1890, according to the design of French architect Alfred Foulhoux. It was commonly called Gia Long Palace because the park and the road in front of the palace were named Gia Long. The purpose of the building was to be an Industry and Trade Museum, displaying products of Cochinchina. However, soon after the construction was completed, the building was used as a residence by Vice Governor-General of French Indochina Henri Eloi Danel (1850-1898). Later, the building was used as a palace for Vice Governors-General of French Indochina, Cochinchina Governers and Vietnamese Prime Ministers.

In 1954, the building was named as Gia Long Palace by the Country Head Bao Dai. Ngo Dinh Diem stayed here temporarily when he was Prime Minister (1954).

After the referendum in 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem used this building as the International Visitor Palace. On February 27, 1962, the Independence Palace was bombed, Ngo Dinh Diem moved the his headquarters to Gia Long Palace and stayed here until he was overthrown in November 1963.

During 1964-1965, the palace was used as the Country Head’s residence. On October 31, 1966, when the new Independence Palace was rebuilt, this building was used as the headquarters of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Vietnam until April 30, 1975.

After 1975, the building was not temporarily used for any specific purpose. On August 12, 1978, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee decided to use this building as the Ho Chi Minh City Revolution Museum. On December 13, 1999, it was renamed the Ho Chi Minh City Museum as today.

Building and Architecture

The building of the museum was designed by Alfred Foulhoux, a French architect. Its architecture is a blend of Oriental and Occidental styles. The has 2 floors and a total area of the building is more than 1,700 m².

Because the original purpose of the building is the Trade Museum exhibiting domestic products, in the past, on the two sides of the main gate had 2 pillars decorated with two statues of Goddess of Industry and Commerce. However, in 1943, Cochinchina Governor Ernest Thimothée Hoeffel removed two statues of the Goddesses to build a porch.

The facade with grand and small columns evoke the classical style of constructions in Paris. The center of front triangular is Republic bust, beside is laurel, corolla of a flower and spiral of leaves, rolling snake, the all enframed with cock and scops – owl symbolizing the day and the night, the last is the head of Republic.

An impressive decors is young figure Commercial Genie, Hermes – Mercure with bird wing hair, string of pearls on grand pillars and at the prow of ship in the Southeast of the palace. Other decorations include crane, saurian, crocodiles reminiscence Southern marsh. Abundant sculptures including representative animals, geometrical motifs (cartouche, disk), stylish vegetables were used to decorate help to reduce edifice’s monotone.

Surrounding the building is a flower garden campus shaped like a trapezoid, surrounded by the four major roads mentioned above.

The main gate of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The main gate of Ho Chi Minh City Museum, the building looks beautiful from the gate. The motorbike and car parking and the ticket booth behind the main gate

ticket booth at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

It is easy to buy admission tickets at this glass ticket booth

The admission ticket to Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The admission ticket to Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The facade of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The facade of the top triangular roof in the middle was decorated with a statue of a human head. The two sides of the human head are adorned with embossed motifs such as willow branches, corolla leaves surrounded, circling snake, the image of a cock symbolizing the day and an owl symbolizing the night at the corners. There is a lovely balcony where a Vietnamese flag is hung on the first floor. Under the balcony is a circular entrance dome supported by 4 pillars.

White and grey are the dominant colors of this architectural work. Visitors are impressed by not only the line of pillars but also windows with wood shutters and ancient decorations on the facade. Because there are tens of windows, the building is always airy and cool even on hot days. The wood carving main door, the ceiling and cement tiles which were very popular in Saigon in the 20th century can be seen at the museum. In addition, the hall and corridors on the ground floor are very spacious. The curved wood staircases leading up to the first floor is one of the most impressive parts of the building. It has been the background of countless wedding photos and portraits.

The beautiful architecture of Ho Chi Minh City Museum's building.

The beautiful architecture of Ho Chi Minh City Museum’s building.

Nice wood and stone staircase of Ho Chi Minh City Museum's building.

Lots of couples choose Ho Chi Minh City Museum to take their wedding photos because of the beautiful architecture, especially the unique wood and stone staircase

On February 27, 1962, Norodom palace (ie Independence Palace) was bombed, President Ngo Dinh Diem moved to Gia Long Palace and built a secret tunnel in the palace. According to the archives, the construction of an underground air raid shelter which costed VND 12,514,114 at that time was started in May 1962 and completed in October 1963. It was designed by Ngo Viet Thu – a famous Vietnamese architect. The shelter is 1 m thick, 2.2 m high, and a total space of 1,392.3 m2. It has 2 stairs, 6 steering wheel-shaped iron doors, 6 rooms including living room, restroom, generator room, store room, rooms for Ngo Dinh Nhu and Ngo Dinh Diem.

The underground shelter at Gia Long Palace

The underground shelter at Gia Long Palace

Outdoor display area

The yard is very spacious and houses an old car from the Nguyen Dynasty and some weapons and military transportation.

Alloy cannon in the 18th century, found at the site of Nha Be fortress in 1980 in front of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Alloy cannon in the 18th century, found at the site of Nha Be fortress in 1980

An old car since French colonial era in front of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

An old car since French colonial era – Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Some military transportation and weapons displayed in the courtyard include:

  • A – 37 Fighter: On 28th April 1975, the “Victory determination squadron” commanded by Nguyen Thanh Trung, a captain of the Vietnamese people’s army researched and used an A-37 fighter which had just been seized from the enemy. Taking of from Thanh Son – Phan Rang Airport to attack Tan Son Nhat Airport, it destroyed 26 aircrafts and cut of the urgent military aid of America for Saigon arm forces.
  • F-5 Fighter: On April 8th, 1975, Nguyen Thanh Trung drove this F-5 fighter to bomb the Independence Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon puppet regime.
  • UH-1 Helicopter: After April 30th 1975, overcoming any technical difficulty, the Vietnamese air force used UH-1 Helicopters seized from the enemy, supported the land and navy forces, contributed to the liberation of Cambodia from the genocide of Pol-pot.
  • Anti-aircraft artillery 37mm, model 1939, manufactured by the Soviet Union: this piece of artillery was used to fight against the destruction war of American air force in the North in 1964, then used in Long Ninh battle. From Nguyen Hue Campaign (April 1972) to Ho Chi Minh Campaign (April 1975), artillerymen use this piece to shot down several types of U.S. aircraft.
A - 37 Fighter, UH-1 Helicopter, Anti-aircraft artillery in front of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

From left to right, from top to bottom: A – 37 Fighter, UH-1 Helicopter, Anti-aircraft artillery

Indoor display area

Artifacts are displayed in 10 rooms on two floors and there are a few artifacts in the shelter.

First floor

Natural – Archaeological of Saigon Room

Ho Chi Minh City locates on 10°38′ – 11°10′ of the North parallel and 106°22‘ – 106°54′ of the East Meridian. It spreads out 99 km and has an area of 2,095.24 m2. The formations are from Mesozoic to Cainozoic era, about 180 million years before. The city is on the lower section of Dong Nai – Saigon Rivers, one side of the city looks the sea. So that its terrain includes hill, salt-marsh and plain. The artifacts were found at archaeological sites in Ho Chi Minh City, some of them are displayed at this museum.

The Natural – Archaeological of Saigon room introduces:

  • Geographical location, geology, minerals, topography, climate, animals, plants, river system;
  • Life of ancient inhabitants 3000 – 2000 years ago with working tools: stone ax, stone hoe, jewelry, weapons, burial jars, found in the archaeological sites of Ben Do and Go Sao, Rieng Bang, Go Cat, Giong Ca Vo, Giong Phet, Giong Am;
  • Relics in the city of Ho Chi Minh.
Natural - Archaeological of Saigon at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

From left to right, from top to bottom:
– The Natural – Archaeological of Saigon room;
– Pieces of wood (Afzelia Xylocarpa, Pterogarpus Cambadia Nus Pierre, Melanorrhea Laccipera Pierre, Pterocarpus Macrocarpus Kurz, Hopea Odorata, Dalbergia Oliveri, – Intsia Bijuga, Xylia Xylocarpa Taubert) in Ho Chi Minh City;
– Section of geological hydrography in the Northwest – Southeast direction;
– Ho Chi Minh City Climate Scheme

Natural - Archaeological of Saigon at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

3 photos from left to right:
– 1. Survey of Ben Do archaeological site, Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh city, 1990;
– 2. Excavated Rong Bang archaeological site, Hoc Mon District, 1999; 3. Excavated Long Buu archaeological site, District 9.
In the glass display cabinet:
– 1. artifacts found in Ben Do archaeology site, Long Binh Ward, District 9: grindstone, pottery pot, stone hoes, narrow-shouldered stone axe, narrow-shouldered stone chisel, square-shouldered axe, stone chisel;
– 2. artefacts found in Go Cat archaeological site, District 2 (3,000 B.P.) including stone hoes, quadrilateral exes, stone knives, grindstone, bronze spear, bronze axe, mould, quadrilateral stone chisel, stone pestles;
– 3. pottery fragments found in Long Buu archaeological site, District 9 (2,500 B.P.).

 

In addition, the room displays include a map of archaeological sites of Ho Chi Minh City, pieces of Saigon River sand, andesit, bricks, kaolin, laterite. Visitors are impressed by models of mangrove forest and crocodile and 3 maps under glass floor panels.

Geography and Administration of Saigon Room

With a collection of maps, charts, pictures, artifacts, this exhibit room shows the process of formation and development, geography and administration of Saigon. From a city planned for 50,000 people to the city having a population of over 6 million people. Ancient maps created from the previous centuries show that the system of rivers is the main part of city structure. Currently, the rivers has been replaced by streets including Ham Nghi Street and Nguyen Hue Street. The room also houses map and model of Eight Trigram Citadel of Saigon – Gia Dinh, photos of various famous landmarks in the past, bronze seal granted to a Gia Dinh viceroy, tables of area, population and population density by district.

Entrance to Geography Administration of Saigon at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Entrance to Geography Administration of Saigon

Map of Eight Trigram Citadel at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Map of Eight Trigram Citadel of Saigon – Gia Dinh

Model of Eight Trigram Citadel - Geography and Administration Room of Saigon

Map of Eight Trigram Citadel in 1970

Geography and Administration Room of Saigon at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

From left to right, from top to bottom:
– Map of Saigon in 1795, Mong Bridge and Belgique Wharf in 1955, Commander-in-chef (Thống suất Lễ Thành hầu) Nguyen Huu Canh who was sent to the South for inspection in 1698, map of Saigon 1898;
– map of Saigon – Cholon 1954 – 1956;
– Bronze seal (9.25cmx9.25cmx7.8cm) bronze seal granted to Le Van Duyet (1763 – 1832) who was appointed as a Gia Dinh viceroy

Commercial port – trade – service of Saigon Room

With more than 527 artifacts, 36 photos and 10 maps, the gallery presents an overview of Saigon’s economic role in the southern region in particular and the country in general through the following sections (topics): Saigon Port, Ben Thanh Market and old markets, old Chinese shops, ancient measurement objects, bus stations, train stations, airports.

Navigation lights, tools for loading and unloading goods, compasses of sea-going vessels at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– Navigation lights
-tools for loading and unloading goods
-compasses of sea-going vessels
-object used to control the speed of the tugboat 240 which awarded the title Hero of Labor in 1985, lifebuoys

Measure units, scales, tax receipts and counting sticks of rice bags at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– Measure units for grain including liter, a half of liter, a quarter of liter;
– Tax receipts and counting sticks of rice bags;
– A seller is measuring gas while his customer is waiting for him;
-Different kinds of scales including hand scales, scales for cereals, balance, automatic scale, hanging scale and some weights

-Unit of length including currency counter, cloth rulers, abacus, calculator;
-Model of Vinasat-1 – the first Vietnamese satellite to be placed in orbit, launched on 18th April 2008 and stamps issued on the 300th anniversary of the city (1698 – 1998);
-Collection of invoice, contract, receipt and ATM card;
– List of high quality Vietnamese goods brand names

Industry and Handicraft of Saigon Room

The room introduces some traditional handicraft industries in Saigon from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. With nearly 300 artifacts and pictures on pottery making and bronze casting, jewelry making, weaving, wood carving … Some of the first industrial facilities of the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industrial parks in the period 1954 – 1975, high-tech parks today.

Industry and Handicraft of Saigon Room - pottery making at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The area displays ceramic products including wine jar, statue of peacock, vases, flower pots and terra-cotta seat in 19th and 20th centuries; a ceramic maker and pottery wheel; some photos about pottery making in Saigon

Industry and Handicraft of Saigon Room - jewelry making at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Jewelry maker and some silver products including purses, jar, lime jar, cerablace

Industry and Handicraft of Saigon Room - wood carving at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Scrolls made by Nghe Xuong Company in the 20th century and tools for wood engraving including chisels, set square, right angle ruler, plane, tool for lining, plane, hammer, stick, tenon saw, string drill, tenon fitting saw, square angle saw

-Objects (horn, velocity meter, temperature gauge) of Cho Quan Power Station used from 1923;
– Objects (scissors for cutting corrugated iron, drill, nails for shipbuilding) of Caric ship building factory;
-Objects of Truong Van Bien Soap Company, established in 1925;
– tools used for processing girdle cake; tools for making shoes.

Saigon Cultural Room

Introducing the customs, beliefs, arts and education of Saigon, The gallery depicts traditional weddings of four ethnic groups of Vietnamese, Cham, Hoa, and Khmer,  betel eating custom, worship of Mother Goddess, Thanh Hoang, Tho Dia, Tai God, collection of musical instruments, costumes, props and pictures of some famous reformed plays of reformed theater, traditional theatrical arts of Khmer ethnic people. Especially, the gallery also introduces materials about education in Saigon, where the Vietnamese national script is spread and the newspaper is published in Vietnam firstly.

Culture of Saigon Room artifacts about Wedding at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– Wedding of Kinh people in South Viet: Offerings on the ancestral altar on wedding day include fruits, flowers (vase of flowers, dragon and phoenix made from flowers;
– Wild betel leaves and bunch of areca nuts as gift to the bride’s side on wedding day;
– A tray containing areca nuts wrapped in wild betel, teapot, teacups and earrings; Bride and groom should bow in front of ancestral altar on wedding day;
-Wedding costumes of the Viet in the late 19th century,
-Wedding costumes of the Hoa, Cham Islam, Khmer’s bride and groom;
-Wedding costumes of the Viet in recent

Tools for eating wild betel and areca nuts at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Tools for eating wild betel and areca nuts

Altar of Chua Xu Lady; Altar of Ngu Hanh; Metal, wood, water statues; Chua Xu Lady statue terra-cotta

– Altar of Chua Xu Lady;
– Altar of Ngu Hanh (metal, wood, water, fire, earth);
– Metal, wood, water statues – ceramic, late 19th century;
– Chua Xu Lady statue terra-cotta, late 19th century

Second floor

Marks of land reclaiming in South Vietnam through the museum objects Room

Year 1698 saw the birth of Ho Chi Minh City, when commander-in-chief Nguyen Huu Canh was dispatched to the South for inspection with mission of making Gia Dinh sub-province, and establishing the first administration in the South.  Since the 17th century, Tay Son and Nguyen Dynasties promulgated many seals and stamps for those officials who represented the royal court in ruling, building order, rules and laws, expanding the reclamation and development of the land of Saigon.

In order to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the museum, they organize the thematic exhibition introduce one of the rare and precious artifacts about the history of Southern land reclaiming during 1698 – 1858.

Marks of land reclaiming in South Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– Room of Marks of land reclaiming in South Vietnam through the museum objects;
– Extract as ordered (Tờ tuân trích lục);
– Seals during Nguyen Dynasty cast in 1861 – 1990;
– Record of Nguyen Ke in the end of the 20th century

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1930 – 1954

The gallery shows documents and pictures of the political struggles since the Communist Party of Vietnam. In addition, the room also shows documents and pictures of Independence Day in Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi, September 2, 1945, and the 9-year resistance war.

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1930 - 1954 at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1930 – 1954;
– Model of villagers made sounds to gather when the enemy came and some weapons such as ponlard, scimitar, knife;
– Song book “Resistance Songs” published by Gia Dinh Province Propaganda Division in 1947;
-Song “Long live Ho Chi Minh”, Propaganda materials used in French ranks “Conference de Jacques Duclos” during the years 1945-1949;
– Equipment of civilians and Viet Cong soldiers during 1945-1954

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1930 - 1954 at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

– 1. Microphone (model) used by Ho Chi Minh President to read the Declaration of Independence in Ba Dinh Square on September 2nd, 1945
– 2. Horn used by Mr. Vo Van Thuc in Tan Binh District to alert populace in the area whenever the enemy cam.
– 3 – Bronze horn captured from French soldiers and used to blow to gather in Binh Chanh District.
– 4 – Kerosene lamp used by Financial Division in the meeting in Hoc Mon District to prepare for power seizure in 1945
– 5,6 -Sword, bayonet captured from Japanese soldiers by the populace to arm for the uprising in 194.
– 7. Poniard used in seizure in Binh Chanh in August 1945.
– 8. Spearhead used in a battle in Tham Luong in 1945.
– 9. Terminalia-leaf hat, beret, calotte, badge, armband of Vanguard Youth.
– 10. Telephone used to communicated from Saigon Railway Station to other stations after August Revolution in 1945.

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 – 1975

Displaying the following topics: Geneva Conference on the end of the war in Indochina on July 21, 1954, Dong Khoi Movement started in 1960, Cu Chi Tunnels, the birth of the National Front liberated South Vietnam on December 20, 1960, the Tet Mau Than Attack (1968), the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam established on June 6, 1969, the Paris Conference on January 27, 1973, Operation Ho Chi Minh (1975), The struggle movement of countries in the world to support the people of Vietnam.

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 - 1975 - Cu Chi tunnels model at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A model of Cu Chi Tunnels is displayed in this room. Cu Chi is well-known for its maze of over 250 km underground tunnels, over 40,000 heroes and people died for the country. Enlarged from the anti-French war in anti-U.S. war, the tunnels has become a multy-story system with corner lot, showing typical guerrilla war. The enemy waged 50,454 attacks, nearly half a million tons of intense bombing, toxic chemicals, destroyed 20,000 ha of cultivated fields.

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 - 1975 - armed struggle at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The section “Armed struggle” introduces:
– Two-compartment cigarette box, wedding cake box, chair, lamp-stands, can, wooden tablet, used to hide secret documents, weapons, bullets, fake identity cards,
– Stamp of the “Quyet Tu” team,
– Typewriter used to type leaflets, Megaphone used to appeal people in District 5 and 6,
– Cinecamera used to record the combat, watch, balance-sheet, layout of Thiec combat; B40 gun and bullet, carbin gun, spikes, hoe used to dig shelter at a revolution base, knife used to chisel wall to cenceal troops,
– Pincer used to cut Hung Long post’s fence for the regular troops’ attack;
– Map of Tet Offensive 1968 and some photos of the offensive, anti-tank weapon used in the offensive

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 - 1975 - political struggle at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The “Political struggle” section shows
– photos of the political struggle;
-Leather, brief-case of Huynh Tan Phat – the president of South Vietnam Provisional Revolution Government (SVPRG) used in the anti – U.S. war of resistance;
– Stamps the SVPRG used in 1969 – 1975, passport of Mr. Ung Rang issued by the SVPRG;
-Declaration polices of SVPRG, personal papers including revolutional base supplied to communists who entered Saigon legally

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 - 1975 - "The world supports Vietnam" at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

In “The world supports Vietnam” section, Badges used to call for support to Vietnam, Lenine portrait, Guinea woman statue presented by president of Guinea, Plane tickets of Mr. Nguyen Minh Luong, a diplomatist of the national liberation front of South Vietnam, handkerchief the 10th anniversary of Independence of Tanzania are display

Room of Revolutionary Struggle 1954 - 1975 - "Ho Chi Minh Campaign" at Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The “Ho Chi Minh Campaign” section displays:
– Dynomo, PRC 25 wawkie-talkie, transceiver used by the telegraphists of the South Information Service to broadcast Ho Chi Minh Campaign’s current news to all over the nation in 1975;
– Conduct stick – souvenir of the South Vietnam Liberation armed force headquarters;
– Keepsakes (scarf, vase, thermostat, compass, glass, parker pen, comb) of the late Lieutenant-General Tan Van Tra

Room of Resistance Souvenirs

Displaying artifacts accompanying the life and fighting of cadres, soldiers and martyrs in 30 years of resistance, including artifacts groups: Relics of Gia Dinh Regiment’s reconnaissance martyrs , artifacts of front-line culture, personal equipment of Truong Son soldiers, cameras, camcorders of battlefield journalists, memorabilia in prison of revolutionary soldiers, Hoang Cam kitchen model

Vietnamese Money Room

The gallery Introduces 1,086 artifacts, including coins and banknotes through Vietnamese historical periods. In addition, there are pictures of money casting stages in feudal time, some documents related to money.

Underground shelter

The design, estimated expenditure for building underground shelter in Gia Long Palace

– The estimated expenditure for building underground shelter after coup D’etat on November 1st, 1963;
– The design of underground shelter of Gia Long Palace by Ngo Viet Thu architect;
– Photo of Commercial Museum – The Southern Governor’s Palace in 1890;
– Round table, armchair, sofa placed in the living-room of the shelter on November 1st, 1963

Read more about Top 12 museums in Ho Chi Minh City

More Photos of Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Human-powered vehicle in French colonial era 2 Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Human-powered vehicle in French colonial era 2 Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A shoe repairer in French colonial era - Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A shoe repairer in French colonial era – Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A potter in French colonial era

A potter in French colonial era – Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A jeweler in French colonial era in Museum of Saigon

A jeweler in French colonial era – Ho Chi Minh City Museum

A gas vendor in French colonial era in the past in museum of Saigon

A gas vendor in French colonial era – Ho Chi Minh City Museum

 

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