VN History Museum established in the 1920s as the Musée Louis Finot and housed in a building which typifies the hybrid ‘Indochinese style’ of architecture, this museum traces the history of the Vietnamese people from the earliest times to the present day using displays of cultural and ethnological significance.
Exhibits are displayed on two floors which cover an area of more than 2,000 metres. The first section contains relics from prehistoric times discovered at different sites throughout the country and dating mainly from the Paleolithic and the Neolithic eras. The second introduces the initial period of national construction and defence and includes many rare and valuable exhibits, including ancient rock carvings and Đông Sơn bronze drums.
The third section focuses on the 1st-10th centuries CE, reflecting the Vietnamese people’s struggle for independence against the Chinese and including important collections of ceramic, porcelain and woven cloth articles. The fourth section traces the development of the feudal system under the Đinh (968-980) and Anterior Lê (980-1009) dynasties, the fifth focuses on the Lý and Trần dynasties (1010-1400) and their great battles against Song and Yuan invaders, the sixth and seventh on the Lê and Mạc dynasties (1427-1788) and the eighth section on the Tây Sơn period (1778-1802).
The ninth section presents the history of the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945), with exhibits on the achievements of the Nguyễn kings in the fields of law, literature and history. The last section introduces the anti-French movement and the August Revolution of 1945 through photographs of patriotic scholars such as Phan Đình Phùng, Hoàng Hoa Thám and Nguyễn Hữu Huân and the events of 2 September at Ba Đình Square where President Hồ Chí Minh read out the Declaration of Independence, bringing about the birth of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam.
In addition, the museum houses 50 stone-engraved statues and bas-reliefs from Champa dating from the 7th to the 13th centuries. The art and cultures of several Asian countries including China, Japan and Thailand are also introduced. There are also some 100 artefacts on display in the grounds of the museum, including Chăm statues and stelae and art works from the Lý, Trần, Lê and Nguyễn periods. Each year the Việt Nam Museum of History receives between 120,000 and 150,000 domestic and foreign visitors and is also an important centre for research into the history of Việt Nam. The Việt Nam History Museum administers a small heritage library.