VN museums are for history, not matrimony

April 13, 2017 - 09:00

With the role of keeping and displaying antiques or historic documents and items, museums’ locations are always in the main and beautiful streets in city.

Visitors to National Historical Museum in Hà Nội. A lot of museums in Hà Nội have been turnted into wedding venues and restaurants. - VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – With the role of keeping and displaying antiques or historic documents and items, museums’ locations are always in the main and beautiful streets in city.

However, for many recent years, there has been a situation that many museums in the capital city of Hà Nội have turnted into wedding venues and restaurants, the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.

The National Historical Museum in Tràng Tiền and Tông Đản streets is an example.

In the area of the museum, the restaurants, cafes, wedding palace, even bia hơi  are surrounding the displaying buildings.

The quiet space of museum is replaced by big noise from restaurants and wedding parties nearby.

In the entrance, there is a big board of a wedding palace.

The wedding venue is located on 2nd floor of a French-architecture villa which can host 1,000 people. The wedding venue is attached with the museum’s display rooms.  The kitchen and toilets are placed on the ground floor.

According to the wedding palace’s manager, he said his owner hired the place for more than two years.

On the side of Tràng Tiền Street, the museum hired out a bia hơi (draught beer) restaurant where the clients make noise day and night.

The restaurant places a big signboard in the entrance “National Historical Museum- Bia Hơi Lan Chín Restaurant”.

“Museums are a place displaying historical documents and items so they needs a solemn space”, Nguyễn Văn Tuấn, a resident living nearby the museum told the newspaper.

“But noise from beer restaurants have broken down the solemnity and made the residents and visitors uncomfortable”, he said.

In fact, many museums could not attract visitors due to meagre displayed items, outdated facilities and unskilled staff. This has made less of revenue. So many museums have hired out some parts of areas for food and drinking service.

Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Văn Huy, former director of Việt Nam Museum of Enthnology agreed with the less earning of museums due to lack of visitors.

“It was really a pressure to museum’s leaders and staff so they had to find their own way to increase the revenue”, Huy said.

Meawhile, Associate Prof. Dr Bùi Quang Thắng said “I know the difficulties faced by museums but I thought hiring the restaurants meant selling them the museums”.

I thought museums’ spaces should be kept as a public and cultural places, Thắng said.

Nguyễn Thị Bích Vân, director of Việt Nam Women Museum said: “for last year, we hired to organise wedding parties some times but I found it caused uncomfortable for museum visitors”.

“So we stopped the service. At present, there is a cafe in the museum to serve visitors”, she said.

According to Dr. Huy, in the world, there are restaurants or cafes in museums to serve visitors.

It was because visitors usually spent all day in museums so they need places for drinking and eating.

Besides, the restaurants and cafes inside the museums were also another source of earnings, said Huy. But in Việt Nam, the restaurants and cafes inside museums were not related to museums’ activities.

Agreed with Dr. Huy, Dr. Thắng said the restaurants or cafes inside museums should not affect the museums’ image and soul.

At present, museums in Việt Nam have not yet followed the model, he said.

The museums should not be for wedding parties or noisy restaurants, Huy said.

“If museums wanted to earn more money, I suggested to make souvenir shops more attractive with special products”, he said.

The Việt Nam Women Museum found its way to earn more money by orgnising several big cultural events of city.

Where does the money go?

According to Mai Xuân Vinh, director of Public Asset Management Division of the Finance Ministry, under the regulations on State property management, museums are public agency so land use must comply to the regulations.

If the museums wanted to hire some parts of museums’ land to serve museum activities, the plans must be submitted to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for approval, Vinh said.

In case leaders of museums hired museums’ lands for other services without approval by authority, it is violation, he said.

“Museums are just allowed to hire out some parts to serve museums’ activities and visitors only”, Vinh told the paper.

Under the law on State Budget, the money earned from services must be paid to the State budget or contributed to museums’ annual funding.

“For example, a museum is granted VNĐ10 billion (US$440,000) for operation  and it earns VNĐ2 billion (US$90,000) from hiring places. It means the money they got from State Budget would be deducted to VNĐ8 billion (US$350,000) only”, Vinh explained.

However, at present, people are concening that the money which museums earned from other services was not transparent.

Management authority must carry out inspection to check whether the money was paid to the State budget or not? Or some individuals have taken used of the earning?”, said Lê Như Tiến, former chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children. – VNS