Whether you are a tourist, a foreigner or a Vietnamese resident, if you are interested in Vietnamese culture and its people, you can not miss a visit to the HCMC War Remnants Museum which is a poignant testimony to the conflicts that have shaken Vietnam this last century.
Created just a few months after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnamese government inaugurated it first as the “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes” which will later become in 1990 ” The Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression” before being finally named the “War Remnants Museum”. Currently, the Museum of Remains of War is a unit of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Ho Chi Minh City.
The museum stores more than 20 000 documents, exhibitions and films, in which more than 1,500 documents and artifacts have been used to present thematic exhibitions in Vietnam and abroad. With the photos, reports, drawings, articles of press but also with the deployment of the weapons presented to the public, you will see how Vietnam resisted winning the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country. The first thing you will notice when you’ll pass the gate is the large authentic military pieces, including the F-5A fighter at the main entrance outside the main building. As the northern troops chased those from the south, the southern army fled, leaving behind billions of dollars worth of American equipment.
In the DRC are exposed testimonies of international aids who worked to eradicate the consequences of the Vietnam war still present throughout the territory (clearance of all chemical weapons spilled and mine clearance, to protect the population). Press and documentary articles of the time describe the universal political and human reactions that this war had provoked. From all continents, all colors, all social strata voice raised against this conflict, we can feel the scale of the international movement that was demanding peace.
Another room also presents the portraits of the victims of the Agent Orange without minimizing its physical impact. The damage caused by this war did not stop with the withdrawal of troops, it is still relevant. This part of the visit should be avoided by sensitive souls and especially children. The museum has provided for this purpose a daycare for children, allowing the public to come with family without shocking children. Follow a re-enactment of prisons and internment camps, where even the guillotine presented reminds you that the time when it was used is not so far ago and where photographies of the Japanese photographer Ishikawa Bunyo show tiger cages like those used by French and Vietnamese to torture political prisoners.
Photos of war reporters from both sides complete the exhibition. Many have left their lives there. The majority of these are in black and white, artistic and timeless. It is impossible to remain indifferent, we feel emotions, we try to understand, and we are happy that the war is over. Children, old people, GI’s, Vietnamese fighters, no one has been forgotten. Suffering was everywhere but mutual help and humanity too, although this may seem surprising during wartime.
Finally, on the top floor, an exhibition of photos, where you can admire paintings made by children, describing the effects and consequences of the Orange gas. Their feelings are beautifully expressed by shimmering colors, between a naivety and a maturity arrived far too soon. A stall of handicrafts made by the victims also allows you to support the association in charge if you wish to do it.
If you need a break, a “decompression chamber”, before plunging into the Saigonese excitement, the museum’s cafe located outside, allows you a stay. Connected to WIFI, you can share your visit with your loved ones around the world, because as you understood it we do not come out totaly unscathed from this visit …
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
Opening hours: Open every day from 7h30 to 12h and from 13h30 to 17h
Telephone: 028 3930 5587
50% discount for students, armed forces, veterans, senior officials. Free for war disabled, family of martyrs, children under 6, and children living in remote areas.