|Back in time: Visitors enjoy traditional food stalls at the Stories of Markets exhibition at the Viet Nam Women's Museum, which will run till April 15. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
HA NOI (VNS)— The hustle and bustle that is typical of a traditional market in Viet Nam has been re-created at an unusual exhibition at the Viet Nam Women Museum in downtown Ha Noi.
Chuyen Cua Cho (Stories of Markets), is divided into three parts. One displays goods and facilities characteristic of village markets in the past, the other presents today's markets in Ha Noi and the third creates one that people wish for the future.
In the market of yore, agricultural produce is placed on straw mats on the floor, beside paintings of people buying and selling things in such market in early 20th century. The contemporary market atmosphere is neater, more tidy and modern with stalls arranged in order. A motorbike loaded with vegetables and meat adds authenticity to the setting.
Visitors can get an actual feel of the differences by trying to weigh produce with old scales, and even act as sellers and buyers at the stalls.
"We did not use the view of museum experts to organise this exhibition," said Nguyen Thi Bich Van, director of the museum, "We used real and live exhibits to create a market atmosphere that people, especially women, are familiar with.
The museum's courtyard has around 40 stalls where women from all over the northern region sell agricultural produce. These women have borrowed money from the Tinh Thuong One Member Limited Liability Microfinance Institution (TYM), the first official microfinance institution in Vietnam offering financial and non-financial services to low income women and their families.
Sigrid Wertheim Heck of the Fresh Studio Food consultancy company, which has assisted the museum in organising the event, said: ""I have been in Viet Nam for seven years and I have realised that markets are not just places where Vietnamese people buy and sell fresh and live food, but also places for people to share daily troubles, joys and sorrows. Market takes centre-stage in Viet Nam's daily life. It's the soul of Viet Nam and a social cohesion of Vietnamese society."
The exhibition hall spares a space to offer images of the transformation of traditional markets like Hang Da, Mo and Cua Nam into commercial centres as part of the urbanization process.
The walls of the exhibition hall are full of quotes of people from all walks of life expressing their views on the transformation.
"I think when (the traditional) markets are replaced by commercial centres, we have lost more than we have gained," said architect Nguyen Quoc Thong, vice chairman of Viet Nam Architects' Association.
"Only investors, real estate businesses and a few others benefit from this action while most people who have been attached to and are familiar with the markets suffer great losses."
The exhibition, organised to celebrate the International Women's Day will remain open at the museum on 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street until April 15. — VNS