Vietnam Sight: Ho Chi Minh Museum

After days traveling around Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and then to Hanoi, I had my fill of Ho Chi Minh.

Yes, the man led an independence movement. He lived an austere life which is too often rare for leaders. He believed in the value of the national state and the need for people to lead their own country.

However, after seeing hundreds of posters, placards and billboards as well as his image on every bill, I had enough. Or so I thought.

We went to the Ho Chi Minh Museum and I was surprised.

The top floor is not simply a series of artifacts to tell Ho Chi Minh’s life. Nor is it filled with text that describes the key moments. Instead, the floor is split up into exhibit spaces, eight in all, the chronicle Minh’s life. They break his life into segments and surround them with larger ideas that occurred during the decade, such as Post-Impressionist Paris, Marxist thought in Russia, modernism in Europe, and the fight against fascists during World War II.

These ideas are told in a very environmental manner. They’re art installations, in the tradition of the 1970s art scene.
You walk through spaces that show you modernism, or show you Paris during the last decade of the 19th century. You not only see these ideas but you feel them as you walk through the spaces.

The area covering the independence fight against the French and Americans appears within the section that features this look.

One reviewer summarizes some of my perceptions about the museum:

The whole thing is utterly anachronistic, and sort of mind-blowing, which is to say, something you absolutely must see to believe. It’s hard to imagine what contemporary Vietnamese who visit here would make of the place. Small children may subsequently suffer from very confusing dreams for years to come.

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