Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: A Haven for Cultural Diversity and Heritage

Nestled in the heart of Hanoi, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology captivates visitors with its unparalleled collection showcasing the vibrant and diverse cultures of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. Established in 1997, this world-class institution offers an immersive journey into the lifestyles, traditions, and architectural wonders of these communities. With over 30,000 artifacts and interactive exhibitions, the museum paints a vivid portrait of the rich tapestry of Vietnam’s cultural heritage, a testament to the country’s socio-cultural diversity.

Location, opening hours, entrance fee

  • Opening Hours: Open from 08:30 to 17:30, closed on Mondays.
  • Entrance Fee: 40,000vnd per person.
  • Location: Located at Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology history

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, part of the Vietnamese national museum system under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, serves multiple purposes such as conducting research, collecting and preserving objects and materials from ethnic groups, and organizing exhibitions and performances to showcase the diverse cultures of both Vietnamese and international ethnic communities.

The establishment of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology began in the 1980s during a challenging post-war period in the country’s history. On October 24, 1995, the Prime Minister issued a decision to officially establish the museum.

On November 12, 1997, during the summit of French-speaking nations in Hanoi, the museum was inaugurated with the presence of Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh and French President Jacques Chirac.

Covering an expansive area of approximately 45 hectares, the museum consists of three exhibition spaces. The first is the Bronze Drum, a two-story building that opened to the public on November 13, 1997, showcasing various ethnic groups in Vietnam. The second is the Architectural Garden, an outdoor exhibition spanning two hectares and featuring ten traditional architectural structures from different Vietnamese ethnic groups, built between 1998 and 2006. Lastly, the Kite building, a four-story structure that began construction in June 2007 and opened its first display at the end of 2013, serves as an exhibition space for cultures of non-Vietnamese ethnic groups, particularly those from Southeast Asia.

Collection and Exhibits

Tribal Art and Artifacts

Tribal Art and Artifacts
Tribal Art and Artifacts
  • Traditional Craftsmanship: Displaying the exquisite workmanship of bamboo, wood, ceramic, and textile crafts peculiar to each ethnic group.
  • Ritual Objects: Unveiling the sacred artifacts used in ceremonies, spiritual practices, and traditional rituals.
  • Daily Life Artifacts: Providing insights into the everyday items employed in cooking, hunting, farming, and household chores.
  • Musical Instruments: Showcasing the diverse range of musical instruments used in traditional performances and celebrations, including gongs, flutes, and drums.
  • Adornments and Textiles: Exploring the intricate and colorful traditional dress, jewelry, and textiles worn by different ethnicities.
  • Architectural Models: Exhibiting scale models of traditional houses and communal structures, illustrating the varied architectural styles and techniques employed across ethnic groups.

Open-Air Exhibition

Open-Air Exhibition
Open-Air Exhibition
  • Full-Scale Replicas: Presenting replicas of traditional houses, gardens, and other architectural structures, providing an authentic glimpse into the ethnic villages of Vietnam.
  • Living Heritage: Experiencing live demonstrations of traditional crafts, such as weaving, pottery making, and wood carving, showcasing the skills and knowledge passed down through generations.
  • Indigenous Gardens: Exhibiting the traditional gardens of ethnic communities, featuring a variety of medicinal plants, spices, and vegetables used in traditional cuisines and herbal remedies.
  • Traditional Performances: Hosting regular water puppet shows, music performances, and cultural events that bring to life the stories and customs of the diverse ethnic groups.
  • Recreational Activities: Providing space for traditional sports and games, such as archery, bamboo swings, and obstacle courses, allowing visitors to engage in interactive cultural experiences.

Research and Education

Research and Education
Research and Education
  • Research Center: Facilitating research and scholarly studies on Vietnamese ethnology and cultural heritage, contributing to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge.
  • Library and Archives: Housing a vast collection of books, documents, and audio-visual materials for scholarly research and public inquiries, providing access to a wealth of knowledge on Vietnamese heritage.
  • Learning Programs: Curating educational programs, guided tours, and interactive workshops specifically designed for children and students, fostering appreciation for cultural diversity and heritage preservation.
  • Seminars and Symposia: Hosting seminars and symposia with esteemed scholars, researchers, and community leaders, facilitating discussions and knowledge exchange on Vietnamese ethnology.
  • Conservation and Restoration: Undertaking conservation and restoration of artifacts and cultural heritage materials, ensuring their preservation for future generations.

Outdoor Display Area

Cultural Village

Cultural Village
Cultural Village
  • Tai Group: Exploring the stilt houses, communal spaces, and traditional costumes characteristic of the Tai people, the largest ethnic minority group in Vietnam.
  • H’mong Group: Unveiling the colorful and intricate textiles, embroidery skills, and traditional festivals of the H’mong people, one of the most recognizable ethnic groups in Vietnam.
  • Dao Group: Discovering the distinctive knife forging techniques, spiritual beliefs, and traditional music of the Dao people, known for their red-dyed clothing and distinct language.
  • Muong Group: Learning about the terraced rice cultivation, traditional medicine, and elaborate funeral rituals of the Muong people, a significant ethnic group in Northern Vietnam.
  • Tay Group: Encountering the vibrant brocade weaving, shamanistic practices, and bronze drum casting traditions of the Tay people, an ethnic group with a strong agricultural heritage.

Architectural Wonders

Architectural Wonders Communal Houses: Exhibiting the imposing communal houses of the Ede people, where community gatherings, festivals, and ceremonies are held. Clan Houses: Exploring the traditional clan houses of the Bahnar people, which serve as centers of community life and ancestral worship. Gongs and Drums: Showcasing the impressive collection of traditional gongs and drums used in musical performances and religious ceremonies, highlighting the significance of percussive art in ethnic Vietnamese cultures.

  • Communal Houses: Exhibiting the imposing communal houses of the Ede people, where community gatherings, festivals, and ceremonies are held.
  • Clan Houses: Exploring the traditional clan houses of the Bahnar people, which serve as centers of community life and ancestral worship.
  • Gongs and Drums: Showcasing the impressive collection of traditional gongs and drums used in musical performances and religious ceremonies, highlighting the significance of percussive art in ethnic Vietnamese cultures.

Ancestor Worship: Displaying the ancestral altars and spiritual objects used in traditional worship practices, providing insights into the deep veneration for family and ancestors in Vietnamese culture.

Cultural Importance

Preservation and Dissemination

Preservation and Dissemination
Preservation and Dissemination
  • Safeguarding Intangible Heritage: The museum serves as a custodian of intangible cultural heritage, safeguarding and preserving the knowledge, skills, and practices passed down through generations within ethnic communities.
  • Cultural Exchange and Understanding: It fosters cultural exchange and understanding between different cultures, promoting respect for diversity and appreciation of the richness of Vietnamese heritage.
  • Educational Value: The museum provides a valuable resource for education, offering students and researchers access to authentic cultural artifacts and fostering a deeper knowledge of Vietnamese ethnology.

Tourism and Community Empowerment

Tourism and Community Empowerment
Tourism and Community Empowerment
  • Sustainable Tourism: The museum promotes sustainable tourism by showcasing the traditional crafts, cultural performances, and architectural wonders of ethnic communities, contributing to local economies.
  • Community Involvement: Through programs and partnerships, the museum empowers local communities by supporting their cultural practices and promoting their products, enhancing their cultural and economic development.
  • Tourism Expansion: The museum has played a significant role in boosting tourism in Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi, attracting visitors interested in experiencing the country’s diverse cultural landscape.


  • What is the best way to experience the museum? Allow ample time to fully immerse yourself in the rich displays. Consider participating in guided tours, attending live performances, and engaging with the interactive exhibits.
  • Is it suitable for children? Yes, the museum is child-friendly with engaging exhibitions designed to captivate young minds. Multilingual support ensures accessibility for children from different backgrounds.
  • Can I take photographs inside the museum? Photography is permitted in most areas of the museum. However, it is essential to be respectful of the exhibits and avoid using flash photography.
  • Are there dining options available? A small café within the museum offers light refreshments and snacks. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own food and beverages, which can be enjoyed in designated picnic areas.
  • How can I learn more about Vietnamese culture beyond the museum? The museum offers various educational resources, including a library, research center, and auditorium that host regular events and lectures. Consider interacting with local people, attending community events, and exploring the surrounding area for further cultural insights.


The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology stands as a testament to the vibrant and diverse heritage of Vietnam, encapsulating the rich cultural traditions and practices of its ethnic minorities. Through its comprehensive collection of artifacts, immersive exhibits, and interactive programs, the museum invites visitors to explore the cultural tapestry that defines Vietnam’s identity, encouraging cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology hosts over 30,000 artifacts showcasing the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities.
  • The open-air exhibition area provides a glimpse into traditional village life, including full-scale replicas of ethnic houses.
  • The museum features a research center, library, and auditorium for scholarly research and cultural events.
  • It promotes cross-cultural understanding and appreciation through educational programs and community partnerships.
  • The museum is committed to preserving and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic groups.

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