Travel period May 2015
The Vietnam War is called the War Against the Americans in Vietnam. The museum used to be called the American War Crimes Museum, but it had to change its name to accommodate tourism.
It has been 40 years since the war against the Americans came to an end, and the remaining traces of the war are gradually fading to the relentless socio-economic development. However, the pain is still there.
A Brief Overview
Established on 09 April, 1975, the War Remnants Museum is home to research, collection and storage of historical documentaries, photographs, and artifacts of the Vietnamese and Vietnam People’s Army, in the glorious war against the hostile forces.
It also showcases evidence of the devastating effects that the war caused. It was recognized as one of 61 museums in the system of “Museum for Peace” in the world by the United Nations. It gives tourists the most honest and objective feeling about the war through vivid historical artifacts.
At present, the museum has 8 regular special exhibitions and many mobile exhibitions to serve the public. It is an attractive destination in Ho Chi Minh City, especially for foreign visitors.
The outdoor section of the museum displays the hardware of the Vietnam War – an A-1 Skyraider attack bomber, M48 Patton tank, an A-37 Dragonfly attack bomber, an F-5A fighter and a BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter” bomb. As soon as we entered the museum, these welcomed us. The artifacts left us with a strong impression, since not many people get to see a Huey and Chinook helicopter or a South Vietnamese Air Force’s tank or fighter jet face to face.
At your right hand side facing the museums, these stockpiles of bombs are definitely an eye catcher.
On your left hand side in the main hall, you will find an interesting yet horrible part of the museum. In here you will find things that relate to the word, torture.
However, the most heartbreaking artifact for visitors is probably the guillotine. A machine with a heavy blade sliding vertically in grooves, used for beheading people. This machine, was brought to Vietnam by the French colonialists, to suppress the people during the resistance war for independence of the country, in the early 20th century.
Rusted barbed wire tiger cells were also built in different sizes. Two to three inmates were kept inside, shackled to iron bars by their ankles. Prisoners had to lie on sandy soil or stoop down.
Inside, the museum is divided into three levels devoted to a particular theme related to the war. The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to a collection of press and propaganda showing hatred and protest to the war.
The second floor of the building is the aggression War Crimes. Both the second and the third floor exhibits the aftermath of the war through photographs, documentaries, and famous US Air Force statements and Word Peace Councils.
One thing that stands out the most on this floor is Agent Orange. It is a herbicide and defoliant used by the US Military during the Vietnam War. It is believed that twenty million gallons were sprayed across swathes of jungle to ensure nothing would ever grow there, again polluting the water and soil and killing the trees like Round Up.
Another one of the highlights of the museum is the Requiem photo gallery; it was created as a re-conciliatory gesture. It’s comprised of images taken by photojournalists killed in action from both sides of the conflict.
Requiem is one of the most powerful anti-war exhibits you’ll ever encounter. It was put together by iconic Vietnam War photographers, Tim Page and Horst Faas.
I don’t know much about the Vietnam War but I do understand it’s a complicated and sensitive subject. I know too little to offer any kind of opinion on it.
Many had said that the museum is blatantly one sided, focusing on anti-American propaganda, but whatever it is we cannot deny the fact that civilians suffered and were intensely affected by what had happened during this part of history. The War Remnants Museum has successfully portrayed the brutality of war.
Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC
Operating Hours: Daily 07:30 – 12:00 and 13:30 – 17:00
Entrance Fee: VND 15,000
Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.