Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: The Making of a National Museum for Communities

By Nguyễn Văn Huy.

Published by The Inclusive Museum, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing

Format Price
Book: Print $US40.00
Book: Electronic $US15.00

For more than a decade (1995–2006), the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has undertaken many journeys: journeys to bring relevant ethnographic objects to the museum; journeys to reach the opening of the museum's permanent exhibition in its new structure–itself shaped like a traditional bronze drum–journeys to prepare temporary exhibitions; journeys to seek out and erect houses of different ethnic groups in the museum's outdoor exhibition; journeys to learn about and present craft demonstrations and performances; journeys to implement educational programs for children; and journeys to introduce multimedia into museum activities. Each journey–creative and educational–has provided opportunities for us to learn about how the people in our country have adapted to changing conditions.

Although all the above journeys took place at different times and involved different, specialized skills of staff members, it can be said that all the journeys shared the same aims: to link the museum with communities; to make the museum more accessible to the public and relevant to contemporary life; and to celebrate the ordinary people of the different ethnic and social groups who hand down the traditions of their ancestors to current and future generations. This is the fundamental orientation of the museum's activities, which I have had the privilege to present in papers at various international conferences dedicated to cooperative learning. Here, I have compiled these papers to provide our friends and colleagues–especially colleagues from museums in Southeast Asia–with a better understanding of the activities of the VME. By reading these papers, one can follow the new road that the VME has taken in fostering and presenting the cultures of ethnic peoples living in Southeast Asia.

Keywords: Museums, Vietnam, Ethnology, Leadership, Cultural Heritage

Book: Print (Paperback). Book: Electronic (PDF File; 1.553MB). Published by The Inclusive Museum, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing.

Nguyễn Văn Huy

Viet Nam

Nguyen Van Huy enthusiastically took part in field trips of the Vietnam Institute of Ethnology to remote and mountainous areas bordering China and Laos in the 1960’s, surveying then little known ethnic minority groups. Leading colleagues to conduct the first sociological surveys of ethnic groups across the country, Nguyen directed his interests to contemporary issues of socio-economic development of ethnic minorities and intercultural relations. Founding director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (1995-2006). Nguyen is author of approximately 60 journal articles and more than 10 books, among which are Faces, Voices and Lives: Experience of a Director in Building a Museum for Communities (The gioi Publisher, Hanoi, 2008) and Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind and Spirit (co-edited with Laurel Kendall, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004). For his contributions to the preservation of cultural heritage and enrichment of local daily life, Nguyen received Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, (République Française, 2007), Aid to Artisans Award (2002), and Rockefeller 3rd Award (Asian Culture Council, 1999).


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