Near Ben Thanh Market and
located in central Ho Chi Minh City is the Fine Arts Museum. After all the buzz
and activity of the city with its motorcycle packed streets, this museum is a
welcoming haven of quiet.
The Fine Arts Museum
Constructed between 1929
and 1934, this colonial-era mansion was owned by a Chinese-born businessman
affectionately known as Uncle Hoa. Uncle Hoa was one of the 4 richest men of
Saigon and he also owned other famous buildings in town like
The Hotel Majestic
and Tu Du Hospital.
Walking into the mansion
The building is a
combination of French Colonial and Chinese styles of architecture. Its marble
floors and large airy rooms bring about a typical colonial feeling as you walk
through. The building itself is considered a work of art. Straight ahead you see
one of Saigon's first wooden elevators.
Billy and statue. Billy is on the right
There is a large breezeway where one can look
at the gardens below and this is where this statue is located. The wall behind
Billy is hand painted and is a piece of art in itself.
Looking from one end to the other you can
enjoy the archways and the painted wall at the other end. This is a very
pleasant spot to just sit and contemplate all that you have already seen in the
museum, and to appreciate the intricacy of the painted walls that lead to this
Lacquerware and eggshell painting
painting is from centuries past. The horse and the people's head wear are all
done in eggshell.
Gold leaf and lacquerware
Here you see another lacquerware painting that uses not only eggshell but gold leaf. Since it is
centuries old, you can see how lacquerware holds up through time.
The dresses of the maidens are all done with
eggshell and the colors hold fast.
Vietnam's history has been tumultuous. They
have been at war with different nations at one time or another for decades.
There was a whole section of War Art that was difficult to witness, but conflict
part of their history and so these pieces were prominently displayed.
The Women's war effort
Women also fought in the different wars and
one such woman is depicted here, doing her part.
Decades of war whether or not it was WWII,
the wars with the French or The American War, the destruction and protection of
Vietnam is part of the artist's psyche. Wandering through this section of the
museum, it was almost like Vietnam was needing the catharsis of these paintings.
Anti-American war poster
There were several rooms of this art, and none
of it was "enjoyable." Posters like these were used to inspire the Vietnamese against
It's pretty self explanatory
Just too difficult to
Thereís a strong propagandist theme running through much of the
war collection. It's the nature of war and I was happy to be
Vietnamese daily life
There were different styles
of Vietnamese expression in the artwork exhibited. Paintings such as the one above are
much too dreary for my taste and while I can appreciate the talent, it's not a
painting that I find attractive to put in my home or office. A barren portrayal
of Vietnamese life, I find this contradictory to my experience.
Vietnamese daily life
This is Vietnamese daily life also, depicting
fishermen, their nets and a life based on the sea. To me, this style is a bit
less oppressive without hiding any truth. But of course, everyone has their
affinity to a style. That is what going to art museums are all about.
A soldier, a poster of Ho Chi Minh and villagers
Ho Chi Minh is like the George Washington of
Vietnam. There is great reverence and respect for this man, often referred to as
"Uncle Ho." Here you see a soldier telling villagers about Uncle Ho.
The villagers show such joy.
There were some beautiful and well preserved
pieces from Vietnam's Cham civilization as you can see here. There were several
rooms of this type of display and it was finely done.
As the story is told, the Enlightened Buddha
knew his death was near. He reclined in this position as shown by this statue as
he passed into Nirvana. According to Buddhist belief, a person who attains the
state of Enlightenment no longer goes through the cycle of life, death and
rebirth thereafter and is entirely set free from the human confines of destiny
Address of Fine Arts
Museum: Street 97A – Pho Duc Chinh, HCMC, Vietnam.Entry fee: 10,000VND.
Opening hours: 9am-5pm Tue-Sun
Tip:Combine the Fine Arts
Museum with a visit to Ben Thanh Market and Le Cong Kieu St (Antique Street with
about 60 stores of antiques) - all accessible on foot.
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