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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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 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.
1.2. Late Paleolithic period (30,000 years ago – 10,000 years ago)
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)
2.2. Late neolithic period (c. 6,000 years ago – 4,000 years ago)
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
Sa Huynh Culture (2,500 years ago)
Dong Nai Culture – Oc Eo Culture
Room 3 – Ngo – Dinh – Early Le Dynasties
Room 4 – Ly Dynasty
Room 5 – Tran Ho Dynasty
Room 6 – Champa Culture
Room 7 – Oc Eo Culture
Room 8 – Stone carvings of Cambodia
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 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.
Room 14 – Asian Ceramics
Ceramics of Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China are introduced in this room.
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 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.
Room 17 – Minority cultures from Southern Provinces
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
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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.
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