Vietnam's museum storage woes

Any regular reader of this site would realise that the Vietnamese media reports a great deal of the archaeological goings-on in the country. But where do all the artefacts from these various excavations go to? It seems that many museums in Vietnam are suffering from an acute shortage in storage space, to the point that many collections are stored in warehouses. Some artefacts haven’t seen the light of day for over 40 years!

Artefacts housed in warehouse, Vietnam Net Bridge 14 Sep 2010

Absentee museums warehouse their treasures
Vietnam Net Bridge, 14 September 2010

Established in 1982, the museum has no space for the treasures accumulated in Hanoi’s 1000 year history.

Nobody is sure how many antiques this museum owns. Since it was established, Hanoi Museum receives all items from excavations in Hanoi. From the weapons warehouse of the Le Dynasty unearthed from the Ngoc Khanh Lake some 30 years ago, to items collected from Co Loa ancient citadel in Dong Anh district in May 2010, everything goes to this museum.

Except few people know where it is. People only know about these items when they were discovered and even historians don’t have another chance to see them. These antiques are not displayed because the museum doesn’t have its own space yet. The museum is temporarily based at 5 Ham Long.

The museum refuses to allow anybody to have access to its antiques, which are “consigned” at many temporary warehouses throughout Hanoi, including the old warehouse of Ha Tay Museum, the warehouse of the Vietnam History Museum, a warehouse in Dong Thay relic site in Thanh Xuan district and a warehouse at Hung Ky pagoda.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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