Run by the Woman's Union Of Vietnam, the Vietnamese Women's Museum is well-curated with various exhibits tribute to women across Vietnam over the years.It celebrates women in all their roles including mothers, street vendors, war heroes, and business leaders and presents each one of the roles with detailed information.
The contribution of women has been instrumental in building the Vietnamese society. Well-organized, text-based and audiovisual imagery exhibits in the Vietnamese Women's Museum beautifully portrays this substantial social journey of Vietnamese women.
Located at the heart of Hanoi, and with a display area of more than 2000 square metres exhibiting over 28000 objects and documents, each floor of Vietnamese Women's Museum depicts a dimension of a woman's life - from family, history to fashion. Other than the exhibits, Vietnamese Women's Museum hosts conferences, workshops, mobile exhibitions and public education seminars as well.
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Visitors should normally avoid going to the museum during weekends or on National events like Tet, as the place remains crowded.
Visitors should wear appropriate clothing and maintain the decorum of the place. Hats, mini-skirts and shorts should be avoided.
Exhibits at the Museum
The main building of the Vietnamese Women's Museum has four areas scattered across the five floors: Permanent Exhibition, Special Exhibition, Discovery Room and Museum Shop. A nearby area of the building is used to organize temporary exhibitions.
The exhibits follow a story-telling format, with signs in English and French as well. The exhibits follow a story-telling format, with signs in English and French as well, and they are very well presented. Historic documentation, such as wedding cards from the Kinh community and Taoist books of the Dao people, give the visitors an in-depth insight for understanding the women of Vietnam. Film footages and photographs documenting the life of Vietnam's heroic mothers during the wartime are among the fascinating exhibits that must not be missed.
The permanent exhibitions in the Vietnamese Women's Museum can be found on the second, third and fourth floors of the building. More than 1000 objects, materials and pictures are distributed among these floors. The three themes are:
1. Women in Family:
This gallery explores marriage and childbirth traditions prevalent throughout Vietnam, focusing on several ethnic groups from Northern Vietnam. These informative exhibits present a picture of a Vietnamese woman's everyday life highlight activities such as weaving, sewing, pottery, foraging, fishing and cooking equipment along with many agricultural objects. One can infer from this section that the daily life of Vietnamese women was not easy in the countryside. It also implies the fact that resourceful and hardworking women have been running small-scale businesses alongside their homes for a long time.
2. Women in History: Frequently claimed to be a powerful exhibition of the museum, this moving gallery uses a mixture of textual and visual exhibits, retelling stories of Vietnamese women in a country at war. From domestic to combat to revolutionary, the Vietnamese women play a wide variety of crucial roles during both the American and French Wars. This section honours those women who gave their lives for the homeland. The displays include pictures of women directly involved in the war and the items they used for fighting. As a matter of pride, Vietnamese women were just as involved as the men were in the fight for Vietnam's independence.
3. Women in Fashion: On the top floor of the museum, one can find the gorgeous collection of Vietnamese outfits and fashions. This eye-catching section has a collection of unique costumes and accessories of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities including beads, batik, hemp, dyes and other contemporary Vietnamese designs. There are also explanations in English detailing the various motifs and techniques used by these different ethnic groups.
As an initiative of bringing the museum closer to the public, Vietnamese Women's Museum conducts public programs and educational activities. For this very reason, the museum opened the Discovery Room in 2010 to encourage younger Vietnamese schoolchildren from the age of 7 to 15 years to do more research, exploration and other creative activities like improving the communication, reading and writing skills and making the traditional Con La or palm-leaf conical hats. New programs are being introduced to make full use the educational resources of the museum.
Vietnamese Women's Museum organizes special exhibitions that augments a new approach of social anthropology, reflects upon the changes and development of contemporary society through various projects targeting disadvantaged children and vulnerable women. Themes like Stories of Markets, Women and Innovation, Flower and Life have been organised in the past. Various other national and international institutions have helped with the organisation of these exhibitions.
Online and Mobile Exhibitions
For those who cannot visit the museum, Vietnamese Women's Museum organizes online exhibitions about past events. One of the online exhibitions - Street Vendor - told the stories about the day-to-day lives and work of Hanoi street vendors.
Vietnamese Women's Museum also holds mobile exhibitions in different provinces, targeting Women's Unions, Schools and Universities.
What To See at The Museum
The expansive collection of the Vietnamese Women's Museum, comprising of more than 28000 objects, have been classified into categories such as textiles, wood, metal, paper, leather, pottery, soil, horn, glass etc. These items are connected to stories personally experienced by women of Vietnam. They throw light on a particular historical period and create an emotional resonance in the museum.
Vietnamese Women's Museum also exhibits the flamboyant spiritual rituals of Mother Goddess Worship, which is officially listed by UNESCO as one of the intangible cultural heritage to protect. The west wing of the first and second floors of the museum hosts the exhibition of visually exciting explanations of spirit medium costumes, temple offerings, performances, and interviews with devotees.
History of The Museum
The Vietnamese Women's Museum was found in 1987, and it is administered by the Vietnamese Women's Union. The construction of the museum began on an existing building in 1991, under the guidance and according to the plans of architect Tran Xuan Diem. The display area inside the museum showcases objects from a collection of around 28000 items, which were gathered by the Vietnamese Women's Union and the museum authorities since the 1970s. Finally, in 1995, the museum was opened for the public. It was closed from 2006 to 2010 for renovation purposes after receiving funds from the Vietnamese Government, the Ford Foundation and the Vietnamese Women's Union. It was reopened for the public in 2010 with modern facilities, contemporary architecture and a permanent exhibition area subcategorized into three themes – Women in History, Women in Family and Women in Fashion.