Researchers at The University of Queensland are examining the untapped potential of museums in Vietnam.
Students at UQ will be traveling to Vietnam in November to participate in a two week intensive training program based on museums and community development.
University of Queensland postgraduates and Vietnamese professionals will take part in a series of one-day workshops in Hanoi and Da Nang, working together to share knowledge and improve their practical skills.
Dr Graeme Were is organising the field trip and says he is passionate about developing museum studies in Vietnam.
“We can learn a lot from museums in Vietnam, the issues they face, their exhibitory techniques, models of engagement, and representation practices,” Dr Were says.
“So it’s all very exciting.”
There are over 140 museums in Vietnam, however research has revealed that the majority of patrons are tourists and not locals.
Nguyen Thi Thu Huong from the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts agrees that Vietnamese locals do not engage with museums in their area as much as visiting tourists.
“Although it has become more popular, we still don’t have the habit of visiting museums,” Mrs Huong says.
“For most museums in big cities, the number of foreign visitors is bigger than that of domestic visitors, and many provincial museums stay empty.”
Mrs Huong says that Vietnamese professionals are developing more interconnected forms of communication in order to breathe fresh air into Vietnam’s museum culture.
“Professionals have become more motivated and are communicating with each other more,” Mrs Huong says.
“Sharing experience and learning from each other really helps the museum atmosphere become more dynamic and productive.
“We are now really hoping for a real culture to develop.”
Education is also an important factor in developing a local interest in cultural exhibitions in Vietnam.
“Many museums now understand the importance of education,” Mrs Huong says.
“They are trying to establish relationships with schools and bring children to museums at a young age.”
The prospect of developing a thriving museum scene in Vietnam is one that excites many researchers both in Australia and in Vietnam.
Ms. Huong Lien Tran from the Vietnam National Museum of Nature is currently studying a post graduate degree at The University of Queensland.
Ms Tran is hoping to bring the knowledge she gains in Australia back to Vietnam to help improve museum education.
“Both the best part and worst part about museums in Vietnam is that they have much untapped potential,” Ms Tran says.
“We have quite a few treasures in our collections of both nature and culture, yet many of them are still shelved away in the storage.
“I think working with other institutes around the world, including The University of Queensland, can help bring out this potential.”
Museums in Vietnam offer a diverse range of cultural insights and are a major tourist attraction, bringing vital funds to the Vietnamese economy.
With a marked increase in inter-institutional communication and a greater focus on youth education, the future for museum culture in Vietnam looks bright and exciting.