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Friday, July 16, 2021, 15:56 (GMT+7)
Vietnam Military History Museum - a place to preserve and bring into play Vietnam’s Military Culture

After the Dien Bien Phu victory in 1954, the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) gradually developed itself into a regular and modern force to defend the North and liberate the South for national unification. In order to promote the national tradition of fighting against the enemy for the Homeland protection, enhance the Party and political work in the VPA, and heal the wounds of war, units across the VPA were ordered to collect objects and documents relating to the resistance war to step by step establish museums of their own and the Military.

Under the General Military Party Committee’s direction, on July 17th, 1956 the General Department of Politics issued the Decision 14/QĐ to establish the Board on Building the Military Museum tasked with undertaking researches, collecting objects and documents relating to military history, and developing plans for exhibitions, propaganda and construction of a Military Museum. These were the initial work for the establishment of the Military Museum. With elaborate preparations, the exhibition system was basically accomplished with 3,260 objects and an area of 2,755 square metres at that time. On December 12th, 1959, the museum was honored to receive a working visit by President Ho Chi Minh and other leaders of the Party, the State and the VPA to review the display contents and allow it to open on the VPA’s 15th founding anniversary. “The Military Museum is a living history book with a great effect on educating the Vietnamese people, especially the young generation on the country’s fine tradition. It also helps foreign visitors more understand Vietnam and our people’s just struggle. Therefore, it should provide the most favorable condition for its visitors,” said President Ho Chi Minh. His instructions have always been upheld, followed, and seen as the lodestar for all operations by cadres, employees and soldiers of the Vietnam Military History Museum (VMHM).

Former President of Cuba Fidel Castro visiting the Museum
(September 13th, 1973)

In the collection of objects and materials, in the past 6 decades, generations of staff of the Museum have been to most of the country’s regions, even to Laos and Cambodia. Some cadres sacrificed their youth and blood and parts of their body on the battlefield when conducting their work. As a result, the VMHM now has 132,815 objects, over 70% of them are original ones together with their related records. Those heritages reflect relatively comprehensively the development of Vietnamese military art and culture from Hung Kings’ time to the Ho Chi Minh era. Among them, there are 2,500 ancient artifacts and dozens of collections of valuable artifacts, such as Uncle Ho with the VPA, the VPA with Uncle Ho, objects and weapons used by generals and heroes of the people’s armed forces, rudimentary and self-made weapons and objects used in the resistance wars, weapons of Dong Son culture, and wartime letters and  diaries. Especially, there are 4 artifacts which were recognised as national treasures at the VMHM. In addition, there are also thousands of objects and weapons seized from the enemies by our people during the resistance wars.

Regarding the preservation of artifacts, the management and preservation of a large number of artifacts diverse in appearance and material cause difficulties for the VMHM’s staff. To perform this task well, the Museum has invested in facilities and equipment and applied scientific advances to digitising documents, used the computer system to manage and exploit information, and developed the procedure for preserving and treating 5 basic materials (cotton fabric, paper, metal, rubber, and oil painting). Valuable, unique, and vulnerable artifacts are preserved via special methods and restored for display. In addition to preserving the originality of its artifacts, the VMHM has undertaken researches into the intangible value of its artifacts, which means their historical contents and related events to give new information for the propaganda purpose.

The T-54B tank No.843 - National Treasure

The Museum has  promoted the value of its artifacts as a basic function. Following Uncle Ho's teachings: "The Museum is a living history book," generations of staff of the VMHM have always done their best to find out new, attractive display solutions to convey the messages of exhibits to visitors. Currently, the VMHM’s display system covers an area of ​​​​about 5,000 m2 with 2,522 artifacts. Its artifacts are displayed in the historical evolution, from the era of Hung Vuong (Hung Kings) and An Duong Vuong to the time of Ho Chi Minh, with four thematic exhibitions, including the Truong Son - Ho Chi Minh Trail; Vietnam’s Heroic Mothers, rustic self-made weapons in the resistance wars, and the world’s support for Vietnam’s resistance wars. Moreover, exhibitions are organised in major events of the country and on national holidays, while mobile exhibitions are held to serve troops and locals in the isolated, remote areas. In order attract more visitors, the Museum has applied 3D technology to offer virtual tours to artifacts, military historical sites, and military celebrities, conducted the work of propagation on mass media, published publications about its artifacts, and maintained links with travel agencies and schools. As a result, the number of visitors to the VMHM has increased significantly. Up to now, there have been more than 20 million visitors, including 3 million international ones. In the past 5 years, the Museum has organised nearly 40 thematic exhibitions for more than 2.5 million visitors. Through display and propaganda activities, the Museum has introduced the unique cultural heritage ​​of the country and the VPA to viewers, enabling global friends to better understand the history and tradition of our nation and VPA, rendering generations of the Vietnamese people fully aware of the value and meaning of our resistance wars for national liberation, raising all Vietnamese citizens’ awareness and responsibility for the Homeland protection in the new period.

Over the past 65 years (July 17th, 1956 - July 17th, 2021) of construction and development, generations of the VMHM’s cadres, employees, and soldiers have always upheld a sense of responsibility and unity to overcome difficulties and keep improving their professional competence and fulfilling their tasks. The Museum is deservedly a place for preserving and promoting Vietnam’s military cultural value. With those remarkable achievements, the VMHM has been presented with many noble rewards by the State.

In the coming time, in order to fulfil its assigned functions and tasks, the VMHM will focus on well implementing several measures as follows.

Firstly, thoroughly grasp and follow the Party’s guidelines, the State’s policy and law as well as resolutions, directives and guiding documents by the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defence, and the General Department of Politics on the conservation work in each stage, and constantly foster staff members’ dynamism, proactiveness, creativity, and determination to readily undertake and successfully fulfil all assigned missions.

Secondly, build an “exemplarily, typically” comprehensively strong VMHM, a pure and strong Party Organisation, and a contingent of cadres and employees, especially the key ones at all levels with political zeal, pure morality, and professional competence to deserve its top position in the system of military museums.

Thirdly, perform well its functions and tasks, dynamically, creatively renew the way of thinking and approaches,  and apply scientific researches to collecting, inventorying, preserving, arranging, and displaying artifacts, assuring their original condition and maintenance, and promoting their value.

Fourthly, promote the collective strength in the task performance, build up the solidarity between the Military and the people in the stationed area, and closely cooperate with agencies, units, and museums both inside and outside the VPA in sharing experiences and helping one another to well carry out the work of conservation and contribute to the VMHM’s task performance.

In the new period, the VMHM’s cadres, employees and soldiers will continue applying valuable lessons learnt from the past 65 years to well performing their task and turning the VMHM into a hub of culture and information science of the VPA and the country.

Col. LE VU HUY, Secretary of VMHM’s Party Committee, Director of the VMHM

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