Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Museum of Vietnamese History – the first museum in Cochinchina is located on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, right in the heart of District 1. The museum is home to thousands of ancient artifacts that are deeply meaningful about history. This is one of the places containing Asia’s most precious heritage. It is one of Top 12 museums in Ho Chi Minh City and worth a visit.

General information

Opening hours: 8:00 – 11:30; 13:00 – 17:00 daily

Address: 2, Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Entrance fee: 30,000 VND

Website: http://baotanglichsuvn.com

Phone: +84 28 3829 8146

Note: There are 2 ticket booths on 2 entrances on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street and after the gate of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Entrance ticket to Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Entrance ticket to Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

History

The construction of Ho Chi Minh Museum of Vietnamese History today was started in 1926 and completed in 1928. At that time it was named Blanchard de la Brosse, the name of a fellow Governor of Cochinchina. The museum was designed by Delaval – a talented French architect. The museum named Blanchard de la Brosse was officially established in January 1st 1929 and the first museum in South Vietnam.

For many years, the Vietnamese history museum has been constantly restored, expanded and developed. An U-shaped building, which was designed by Nguyen Ba Lang architect, was built behind the old building in 1970.

In 2013, the museum was renamed as Bảo Tàng Lịch Sử Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh. In English, it is usually called Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City distinguish it from Museum of Vietnamese History in other regions of Vietnam.

Buildings and Architecture

Floor plan Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Photo 1: Plan of the museum, the yellow rectangle covers the old building, the pink rectangle covers the new building. Path of visiting rooms in the museum is from the entrance in Saigon Zoo. After buying ticket behind the main door of the old building, visitors go straight to Room 1, then Room 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and end at the garden in the middle 2 buildings

The museum has 2 entrances, the first entrance (of the old building) is after the gate of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden and in the opposite of Hung King Temple, the second entrance (of the new U-shaped) is located on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street.

The old building

Designed by the French architect Delaval, Museum of Vietnamese History is inspired by Chinese, Eastern and Western architectures.

In the middle of the building, there is an octagonal object which reminds the term “Bagua” ( Eight Trigrams: earth, thunder, fire, marsh/lake, mountain, water, wind, heaven) in I Ching (Book of Changes). The object has 2 tiled roofs, which are decorated with dragon and phoenix decors. On the top of the Bagua are located 4 spheres, each smaller sphere is on top of the bigger.

The facade of the building is in white and light yellow colors. There is a line of square pillars along the corridor and in front of the front wall. There is a large garden in front of the old buiding.

The old building with an octagonal object with tiles, dragon and phoenix decorations and 4 spheres Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

The old building with an octagonal object with tiles, dragon and phoenix decorations and 4 spheres. The building is a mix of ancient Chinese, Western and Eastern architectures.

The new building

In the back of the museum is the new building, designed by Nguyen Ba Lang architect. It has an U shape and a total area of 1,000 m2. The old and new building form a square shape with a large garden in the middle. All doors and windows face a garden with a lake, so all rooms are always bright, airy and cool. On the right and left of this building are 2 rather spacious yards.

The gate on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street has a tiled roof with decorations in a cloud shape, 4 supported pillars and 3 entrance. Behind the green steel fence with a line of pillars is a spacious yard in which there is a nice coffee shop, a ticket booth and a carved paintings.

Main gate, fence, yard and ticket booth of the Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street

Main gate, fence, yard and ticket booth of the museum on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street

The 2 buildings show the mix of Western and Eastern architectures, Vietnamese and French architectures. So that visitors do not only see the artifacts at the museum but also have a chance to admire its beauty.

The garden

Green garden with a water lily lake Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

The spacious garden is full of green trees including old trees, plants, colorful flowers and especially a water lily lake. All entrances and windows face this garden so that visitors always feel comfortable and cool in the museum which does not has air-conditioning system

Displayed Artifacts

Today, the number of preserved artifacts has reached 43,000. 12 national treasures. Valuable treasures can be mentioned as the Le Dynasty Stamp, found in Quang Nam in 1471, the pearl of the “Emperor Ton Than Chi Bao” in ivory of the Nguyen Dynasty, a mummy still quite raw integrity having more than a hundred years ago, etc. Besides the antiquities, the museum also houses more than 25,000 valuable books and documents on domestic and foreign culture and ethnicity. All are valuable in scientific, cultural and historic researches.

The museum not only expresses the historical process of the Vietnamese nation but also presents the cultural characteristics of other neighboring countries. With a modern display system and rich artifacts, the museum offers visitors interesting, useful and important knowledge.

Let’s discover 18 rooms of the museum.

Room 1 – Prehistoric period

Room 1 - Prehistoric period Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Room 1 – Prehistoric period has lots of artifacts found in Prehistoric period. Historic teachers usually take their pupils to the museum to see artifacts besides listening to teachers and reading books.

Room 1 – Prehistoric period houses 2 big maps of stone age relics in the world and in Vietnam. The room focuses on information and artifacts found in prehistoric (c. 500,000 years ago – 2879 B.C.) which is divided into:

1. Paleolithic period (c. 500,000 years ago – 10,000 years ago)

The land of Vietnam was formed long before man first appeared on this earth, in geological terms sometime between the Pre Cambri and the Late Mesozoic periods (570 – 65 million years ago). Archaeological discoveries of Homo Eretus’ teeth and crudely flaked pebble implements in the mounts proved that the aboriginals had been in the Paleolithic circa 500,000 years ago in Vietnam. The ground stone tools, coarse pottery considered that the ancients transferring from the gathering to cultivating economy.

1.1. Early Paleolithic period (c. 500,000 years ago – 30,000 years ago)

After lots of generations, primitive Vietnamese have come from catching and hunting to have hand skills, language, earn their living, more inventions to change the living quality.

Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Stone tool and flake in Mount Do,  Quan Yen, Thanh Hoa, Mount Nuong (Thanh Hoa Province), Soi Nhu (Quang Ninh Province)

1.2. Late Paleolithic period (30,000 years ago – 10,000 years ago)
Late Paleolithic tools made from stone at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Late Paleolithic tools made from stone in Thai Nguyen, Quang Ninh, Phu Tho Provinces

2. Neolithic period (c. 10,000 years ago – 4,000 years ago)

During this period, man moved from living in a clan to a tribe, moved from forests and mountains to plains and coasts. The most important feature of the Neolithic peridod is making better tools by grinding, drilling, sawing, etc.

2.1. Early neolithic period (c. 10,000 years ago – 6,000 years ago)
Artifacts in Early neolithic period at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

– Stone grinding mill, rubbing, axe, plate-shaped tool, ochre, mollusk shell, Hoa Binh Culture (10,000 years ago), Bac Son – Lang Son (8,000 years ago)
– Potsherd in Da But culture (c. 5,000 – 6,000 years ago)
– Photo of excavating Cong Mong Cave
– Photo of animal face engraved on Dong Noi cave walls (Hoa Binh culture)
– Photo of images engraved in stone in Thai Nguyen Province circa 5,000 – 8,000 years ago

2.2. Late neolithic period (c. 6,000 years ago – 4,000 years ago)
Artifacts in late neolithic period at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

– Stone axe, chisel, grinding mill, potsherd at Cau Sat site, Dong Nai c. 5,000 years ago
– Stone hoe, axe in Cong Dao – Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province c. 5,000 – 4,000 years ago
– Stone grinding mill at Dong Dai site, Quang Ninh c. 4,000 – 3,000 years ago
– Stone axe, rubbing, grinding mill, potsherd at Dau Ram site, Quang Ninh Province

Room 2 – The first period of Founding and Struggling for Independence

After the bronze age (8th century BC – 2nd century), three cultures including Van Lang – Au lac based on Dong Son culture in the North, Lam Ap – Champa Kingdom’s prescursor based on Sa Huynh culture in the Central, Phu Nam Kingdom based on Dong Nai culture – Oc Eo in the South.

Dong Son Culture

Dong Son drums - Dong Son Culture in Room 2 - The first period of Founding and Struggling for Independence at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Dong Son drums c. 2,500 years ago
2. Utensils: broze axe, chisel, lamp-dish, container, ladle, situla
3. Weapons: battle axes, spears, arrows, daggers, chest covers under the rules of Hung Kings
4. Jewelry: necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings, brooch, belt buckle, etc.

Sa Huynh Culture (2,500 years ago)

Sa Huynh Culture in Room 2 - The first period of Founding and Struggling for Independence at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

– Sa Huynh pottery: pots, trays, jars with or without feet, cups, bowls, etc. Ceramic material from rough to slightly rough, mixed sand
– Stone axe, stone hoe, iron tool, mollusk shell, earthenware bowl, stem-cup, container
– Jewelry pieces such as bracelets, rings, beads, earrings of stone, glass, agate, precious stones
– Urn tomb burial

Dong Nai Culture – Oc Eo Culture

Dong Nai - Oc Eo Culture in Room 2 - The first period of Founding and Struggling for Independence at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

– Bicephalous ear ornament representing the highest level of aesthetics and craftmanship of Dong Nai culture
– Giong Phet jar coffin made of clay mixed with raw sand or added vegetable residue
– The skull with earrings found in 1994 at Giong Ca Vo, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City proves there was deep class division in society of this culture
– String of beads, bracelet, three slit earring, bicephalous earring, stone and metal, axes from animal bone, stone hoe
– Halberd – a type of ancient weapons originated in China
– Stone knife, metal halberd, earthenware vase, stove, dish, model of tower, lampstand

Room 3 – Ngo – Dinh – Early Le Dynasties

Room 3 - Ngo - Dinh - Early Le Dynasties at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Earthenware brick (Dinh Dynasty, 10th), copper coin (Dinh Dynastic, 970-979), copper coin (Early Le Dynasty, 980-1005), earthenware duck figurine
2. Copper coins, tureen, coin container, bronze vase (1st – 3rd centuries), copper coin (713 – 741); Bronze mirror, belt buckle, bell, belt hook, bracelet, spear-head (3rd century)
3. Battle of Bach Dang River – 938
4. Drum basin and bronze drum representing fighting spirit for traditional culture reservation – the most notable artifact of this period
5. Earthware bowl, jar, stoneware covered bowl with stove (1st – 3rd centuries), stoneware cup (c. 2,000 years ago)

Room 4 – Ly Dynasty

Room 4 - Ly Dynasty at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Copper coins (1039-1210)
2. Stoneware fragment with decoration, lotus pedestal, ewer, tureen, jar, lime pot, covered box, bowl, stem dish, vase, small bowl, dish
3. Chiếu Dời Đô (Moving citadel document)
4. Amitabha Buddha (replica), carved in 1057
5. Earthenware kneeling figurine, fragment with decoration, lotus pedestal
6. Nhu Nguyet River defense line (currently Cau River, Bac Ninh Province)

Room 5 – Tran Ho Dynasty

Room 5 - Tran Ho Dynasty at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

This room shows:
– Brown patterned ceramics created in Ly Dynasty but characterized from the Tran Dynasty;
– Household ceramics under Tran Dynasty were used not only domestically but also exported
– Model of Van Kiep Battle during the 2nd Yuan invasion (1285)
– A giant painting of the battle of Bach Dang (1288) during the 3rd Yuan invasion
– The piles of Bach Dang
– Some replica artifacts from metal: loudspeaker, shield, halberd, javelin head, sword used in the battles
Students of University Ho Chi Minh Architecture comes here to draw artifacts such as ceramics, statues, etc.

Room 6 – Champa Culture

 Room 6 - Champa Culture at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Some notable sandstone statues in the Champa Culture room include Nairrita (10th century); Ganesa (7th-8th century); Nine deities stelae – the unique Champa statue (10th century); Seated deity (10th century); Roof ornament (10th-11th centuries); Temple gargoyle (10th century)

Room 7 – Oc Eo Culture

Room 7 - Oc Eo Culture at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. The most ancient wooden sculptures found in Southest Asia, the most left statue is national treasure of Vietnam
2. Pile, vernacular architecture fragment (4-5th century), inscribed stelae(5th century)
3. Bronze and goldsmith tools
4. Glass beads, precious and semi-precious jewelry, gold, bronze and tin jewelry including earrings, bracelets, rings, pearls and necklaces
5. Sandstone Yoni , Mukhalinga, Linga (6-7th century)

Room 8 – Stone carvings of Cambodia

Room 8 - Stone carvings of Cambodia at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Sandstone Indra(early 13th century), Garuda (12-13th centuries), Bodhisattva (12th century)

Room 9 – Le – Mac, Trinh – Nguyen Dynasties

This room is temporarily closed for maintenance and will be open soon at the end of 2019.

Room 11 – Tay Son Dynasty

This room is temporarily closed for maintenance and will be open soon at the end of 2019.

Room 12 – Nguyen Dynasty

Room 12 - Nguyen Dynasty at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Ivory seals in the 19th century; 2. Silver coins; 3. Copper book (1865), Copper book (1878); 4. Model of Ngo Mon from ivory, wood

Costumes, musical instruments, weapons, furniture in Room 12 - Nguyen Dynasty at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Embroidery robe of crown prince, case containing clothes, lacquered wood, embroidery royal robe, embroidery pillow, embroidery queen’s robe (19-20th century)
2. Vietnamese folk musical instrument: two-chord guitar, three-stringed guitar, three-chord lute, monochord, castanets, two-piece percussion instrument
3. Platform bed – Wood inlaid with ivory
4. Weapons: sword, knife, riffle, pistol (late 19th century)

Room 13 – Duong Ha Collection

Duong Ha Collection was collected by Professor Duong Minh Thoi (1899-1976) and his wife Ha Thi Ngoc in 1930-40s, rapidly known and contributed to encourage in the movement of collecting in the South Vietnam. The collection was donated to the museum, room 13 houses typical artifacts of Duong Ha Collection.

Duong Ha Collection at Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Duong Ha Collection

Room 14 – Asian Ceramics

Ceramics of Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China are introduced in this room.

Collection of Asian ceramics

Collection of Asian ceramics

Room 15 – Mummified Body of Xom Cai

In 1994, at Xom Cai, Ward 8, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, a mummy was discovered in the rather big barrow, 60 square metres. It was rearched that this is an about 60-year-old, 1.52 m high woman, named Tran Thi Hieu, died in around 1869.

Room 15 - Mummified Body of Xom Cai at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Room 15 – Mummified Body of Xom Cai

Room 16 – Vuong Hong Sen Collection

Mr. Vuong Hong Sen, born in 1902, worked in the Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City from 1947 to 1964. He has collected antiques and published more 10 works including Saigon long ago, The pleasure of antiques, etc. He donated all of his antiquities and books to the Government. Typical artifacts of his collection are introduced in this room.

Vuong Hong Sen Collection at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Vuong Hong Sen Collection

Room 17 – Minority cultures from Southern Provinces

5 ethnic groups: Gia Rai, E De, Ra Glai, Chu Ru - Room 17 - Minority cultures from Southern Provinces at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Austronesian languages in the South consist of 5 ethnic groups: Gia Rai, E De, Ra Glai, Chu Ru. Notable artifacts include tomb house statue is sculpted around the tomb of the dead, bronze set of gongs, brown cenamics jar, metal tobacco pipe, bamboo tobacco pipe, products of handicraft knitting such as flat drying basket, dosser, measured rice tool, rice basket

Tools for hunting including javelia, fishing spear, crossbow Room 17 - Minority cultures from Southern Provinces at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Tools for hunting including javelia, fishing spear, crossbow, arrow pipe, sword, shield; tools for fishing: fishing-tackle, tool for catching shelfish, fish trap, fishing tackle, coop, piragua

Musical instruments including wood xylophone, bamboo sralai trumpet, musical instrument in Room 17 - Minority cultures from Southern Provinces at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Musical instruments including wood xylophone, bamboo sralai trumpet, musical instrument, stringed musical instrument from bamboo and gourd, paranung drum, kinang drum from leather and wood, kanhi from turtlesheel, kipan drum from tera cotta, rattan, leather, horn, Stringed musical instrument

Cham Bani and Cham Islam people - Room 17 - Minority cultures from Southern Provinces at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

Photos of Ramawan – the most important traditional festival of Cham Bani and Cham Islam, klong, box, dish cover, box of betel and areca, contained water jar, high footed tray and box, creel, earrings, bracelet, beads, ring, female clothing, shawls from 15-19th centuries

In addition, there are lots of artifacts of Khmer people, the belief of worshipping Village God (Thần Thành Hoàng), production activities, religious reliefs, jewelry pieces and costumes of ethnic groups.

Room 18 – Buddhist statues of Asian countries

Room 18 - Buddhist statues of Asian countries at Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

1. Thai Buddha statues 2. Japanese statues 3. Tibetan Buddha statues 4. Vietnamese Buddha statues

Services at the museum

In the area of the Museum of Vietnamese History, there are catering and rest services. There is also a souvenir shop selling books and souvenirs for visitors to buy as gifts.

The souvenir shop in the middle of the building sells silk, accessories, jewlries, postcards, etc.

Summery of Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City

With a large number of rare items, the museum attracts many visitors throughout the year. Visiting the stunning museum is the best way to learn about Vietnamese history and culture in the easiest way. Why not miss this attraction? This is a must-visit spot on any trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

Read more about Top 12 museums in Ho Chi Minh City

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