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Southeast Asian museum opens doors

Update: December, 02/2013 - 08:28

The kite-shaped Southeast Asian Museum promises to become a major tourist attraction in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Duc

HA NOI (VNS) — The Southeast Asian Museum was officially opened to the public yesterday, with a permanent exhibition displaying the cultures of Southeast Asian nations.

Located inside the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology (VME), the first phase of the 7,000sq.m, kite-shaped building has opened after six years of construction.

Attending the ceremony on Saturday, included Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, ASEAN General Secretary Le Luong Minh, high-ranking officials from various authorities, heads of diplomatic delegations to Viet Nam, and representatives from museums in the region.

The idea of establishing the Southeast Asian Museum took shape at the end of the previous century, before VME had been opened. In 1997, the Vietnamese Government agreed to a proposal to extend VME to exhibit Southeast Asian ethnicity, one year after Viet Nam joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"At that time, Viet Nam was the newest, but least developed, member of ASEAN," said Deputy PM Dam.

"However, the move proves the perspective, vision and determination of the Vietnamese Government to enhance cultural exchanges, apart from improved co-operation in economics, politics and security in building an ASEAN community that unites, co-exists and develops its diversity."

"Though still in its infancy," he added, "we are convinced that the Southeast Asian Museum will play an active role in increasing researching and cultural exchanges to help enrich the culture of the nations, as well as intensify the cultural identities of each nation, contributing to the mutual friendship, co-operation, and prosperity in the region, as well as in the world."

With its new museum, "Viet Nam declares its responsibility to ASEAN in preserving and enhancing cultural heritage values of the region, as well as contributing to creating the image of Viet Nam in the world," the president of Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, Nguyen Xuan Thang, said.

The Southeast Asian Museum has four storeys, in which the ground floor displays the Southeast Asian Cultural permanent exhibition and offers educational activities for children, while the second floor is designed for the display of three donated collections, which is due to open next year.

The third storey will be set aside for temporary exhibitions and exchanged exhibitions from other museums in Southeast Asia and the world, while the top floor is devoted to conservation.

According to VME's deputy director, Nguyen Duy Thieu, VME will, step-by-step, develop different exhibitions with related activities to introduce the cultures and lives of Southeast Asia, as well as those of the world.

Three pillars

"The museum comes into being at the very moment Southeast Asian nations are accelerating their unity to become a strongly built bloc based on three pillars, economics, politics and culture," said Thieu.

"Thus, this is the pride of not only Viet Nam, but also museum operators in the region whose express hopes that the Southeast Asian Museum will be a regional meeting place to promote museum operations, in general, and cultural conservation, in particular."

"We will do our best to make this a new tourist attraction," he added.

As Thieu said, displays introducing Southeast Asian cultures were not rare in the world, but the newly-built museum was the first one showcasing the Southeast Asian culture as a complete regional entity.

Thus, the inaugural and permanent display, Southeast Asian Culture: Diversity and Unification, presents the museum's efforts to attain such a goal. The exhibition also celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, which is being celebrated today.

The permanent exhibition introduces about 400 objects, 130 photos, maps, texts and videos on the 500sq.m ground floor.

Through five main topics: textiles, daily life, social life, performing arts and religions, different cultural elements of Southeast Asian inhabitants are represented, which expresses the diversity and unification in culture, as well as in the lifestyle of the region.

The collection is a result of VME's project "Surveying, Researching and Collecting Ethnographic Objects of the Southeast Asian Peoples" conducted from 2006 to 2010.

"We are very proud and happy to collaborate with VME because we share many of the same ethnic groups in Viet Nam and Laos," the co-director of Lao Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Tara Gujadhur, added.

"We feel proud that VME asked us for support and advice. We always look at VME as a leader in the region in the field of ethnology. So we try to support with information, documents, and objects the new Southeast Asian Museum." — VNS



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