Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam. The mission of the Museum is scientific research, collection, documentation, conservation, exhibition and preserving the cultural and historic patrimony of the nation’s different ethnic groups.
The museum also serves to guide research, conservation, and technology that are specific to the work of an ethnographic museum.
In its planning for the future, the Museum intends to present the cultures and civilisations of other countries of South-East Asia as well as in the region.
Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country, which is composed of 54 ethnic groups. Perceiving the importance of having an ethnographic museum to preserve and present the cultural heritages of ethnic groups, the Government decided to establish a museum of ethnology in Hanoi. The Proposal for the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology was officially approved on December 14, 1987.
Land was allocated for construction: in 1987, 2,500m2 and in 1988, 9,500m2. Then, in 1990, the Prime Minister decided to allocate the entire 3,27 acres of land to the Museum.
During construction (1987 to 1995), the Project Managing Board and the Museum Department were a part of the Institute of Ethnology. On October 24, 1995, the Prime Minister made the decision on establishment of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, under National Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities. On November 12, 1997, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology inaugurated its permanent exhibition and officially opened to the public.
The Museum is located in a large open area on Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District, about 8 km from the city centre. This area used to be paddy field of the local people. During the construction of the Museum, all of the infrastructure was built, including the 700m road from Hoang Quoc Viet Street to the entrance of the Museum. (In the near future, this road will reach the Daewoo Hotel, which is situated between Cau Giay and Lieu Giai Streets)
The Vietnamese Government first invested in the Museum in 1986 and construction of the foundation began in late 1989. According to the proposal, the total budget for construction was 27 billion of Vietnamese dong (US$ 1.9 million), not including 4 billion dong (US$ 285,000) for collecting and exhibiting the artefacts.
The exhibition building of the Museum was designed by the architect Ha Duc Linh, a Tay minority, who works for the Living Houses and Public Works Building Company, Ministry of Construction. The interior architecture was done by Mrs. Veronique Dollfus, a French architect.
The Museum is divided into two parts: an indoor and an outdoor exhibition. The indoor part is composed of the exhibition building, office, research centre, library, storage, technical lab and auditorium. These offices cover 2,480m2, including 750 m2 for storage of artefacts. The outdoor exhibition, which will be accomplished in the first years of the 21st century, is to highlight different types of houses in all parts of Vietnam. Pathways link the indoor and outdoor exhibitions with each other.
Since its inauguration on the occasion of the 7th Summit of Francophony in Hanoi, give date the Museum receives about 60,000 visitors annually.