|War Remnants Museum|
The War Remnants Museum is a war museum at 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. It primarily contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War, but also includes many exhibits relating to the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists.
The museum comprises a series of themed rooms in several buildings, with period military equipment placed within a walled yard. The military equipment includes a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, an F-5A fighter, a BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter" bomb, M48 Patton tank, an A-1 Skyraider attack bomber, and an A-37 Dragonfly attack bomber. There are a number of pieces of unexploded ordnance stored in the corner of the yard, with their charges and/or fuses removed.
Operated by the government, the museum was opened in September 1975 as "The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government”, focusing on exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Since then, it has undergone many changes and renovations due to the process of normalization of relation between Vietnam and the United States, such as the change to its current name in 1993.
Saying about such successes of the museum, Huynh Ngoc Van, Director of the War Remnants Museum said that the proportion of international visitors to the museum accounts for about 70% of visitors - a result of our great efforts. In my opinion, the Vietnam War is an issue the world is interested in. For this reason, foreign visitors to Ho Chi Minh City want to visit the museum to understand more about the Vietnam War.
The War Remnants Museum is the sole museum organizing thematic exhibitions on war crimes.
Additionally, our displaying method helps the museum attract more visitors. All documents, photos and artifacts at the museum are annotated in both Vietnamese and English. The museum’s guides can give tours of the museum in other languages such as Chinese, French and Japanese.
The War Remnants Museum is currently one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, attracting approximately half a million visitors every year. According to the museum's own estimates, about two-thirds of these are foreigners. However, visitors' opinions are mixed, ranging from favorable to "[the viewing of the exhibits] need to be taken with a grain of salt", with some going so far as to claim that Vietnamese regime has "borrowed images from the West and inserted them into a "distorted" history", using images of the war to substantiate their version and views on Vietnam War history.
The museum have organized some exchange programs between visitors and historical witnesses - war veterans, former political prisoners and victims of Agent Orange/dioxin. Over the last ten years, beside on-site exhibitions, the museum has organized over ten mobile exhibitions in many provinces and cities across the country, especially in difficult areas. The mobile exhibitions, such as an exhibition themed ‘Vietnamese women in the war’s fire and sword’; ‘Vietnamese children in the war’s fire and sword’; ‘Consequences of Agent Orange’; and ‘Love in war’, have attracted local people.
They have also held some exhibitions at industrial parks to serve workers who are very busy. They don’t have the chance to visit museums - mobile exhibitions at companies have attracted thousands of workers. The mobile exhibitions contribute to increasing the number of Vietnamese visitor to reach the number of international visitors.
Through the program, children have a chance to participate in job interviews and receive their ‘First Salary Day’ at the museum.
For children, at the museum, children have the opportunity to enjoy many activities, such as painting, looking at exhibitions in the museum, and visiting the ‘White Pigeon’ room.
US anthropologist Christina Schwenkel wrote in a 2009 book that the exhibition is "full of propaganda", and while the description "war crimes" has been dropped from the official text, the museum still exhibits pictures that are considered controversial like that of a "smiling U.S. soldier proudly displaying a VC head as a war trophy" accompanied by a caption that is still hinting at a criminal element, in this case: "after decapitating some guerrillas, a GI enjoyed being photographed with their heads in his hands".
The War Remnants Museum has been honoured continuously by tripadvisor.com, the world’s largest tourism website.