Building museums of traditional craft villages

NDO – In the context of international integration with strong impacts from the industrial revolution 4.0, many traditional trade villages are facing the risk of falling into oblivion and disappearance.


Facing this situation, the construction of museums for traditional trade villages is one of measures contributing to preserving and promoting the values of products.

According to statistics by the Vietnam Craft Villages Association, Vietnam has over 5,000 trade villages, including over 1,700 recognised as traditional craft villages. Being formed and developed over the ups and downs of history, the trade villages produced and preserved traditional handicrafts as well as the nation’s cultural embodiment. The development of trade villages will not only create jobs for local people and increase incomes for millions of labourers but also significantly contribute to the socio-economic development of the country while preserving and promoting the culture imbued with national identity. However, when the trade has been expanded, the trade villages had to face fierce competition of the market with an abundants of imported goods. In addition, many elderly artisans passed away, so numerous cultural values have been faded way and trade secrets have been lost.

Dr. Ton Gia Hoa, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Craft Villages Association said that the best condition for preserving the traditional handicrafts is the environment that produces them. Therefore, it is crucial to build museums of craft villages. Through the museums, the stories about traditional handicrafts and trade villages will be mentioned, contributing to preserving a type of cultural heritage and supporting trade villages to promoting their images to visitors.

Many museums of trade villages with different scales and forms have been formed in several localities, including the Museum of Lai Xa Photographic Village (Hoai Duc District, Hanoi), the Ancient Pottery Museum (Kim Lan Commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi), Co Do Fine Arts Museum (Ba Vi District, Hanoi), Hoi An Traditional Medicine Museum (Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province and a Museum of several pottery artisans from Bat Trang village (Hanoi). The museums have created spaces for visitors to admire and buy handicraft products as well as learn more about the embodiment of ancient crafts.

However, with thousands of trade villages around the country, there are very few museums. Moreover, most of the craft village museums were formed with a very small scale and have not received an adequate investment. The displayed objectives have been arranged unscientifically, while there have been a lack of explanation and experience activities. Therefore, the museums have not left positive impressions on visitors; meanwhile the revenues from their activities have not been raised.

At the recent seminar on the development of private museums and application of fine arts in trade villages’ products in the era of technology 4.0 in Hanoi, many researchers affirmed the importance and necessity of trade villages’ museums, while proposing many measures to improve their efficiency. Most experts said that in order to form and promote the efficiency of the museums, the trade villages should create attractive and unique products as well as systematise the related historical documents. The museumsn should be organised scientifically with a system of production tools, folk artisans, traditional handicrafts, technologies, production skills, festivals, cultural activities associated with the villages. They must be artifacts and documents that are capable of preserving the cultural values of trade villages.

Le Thi Minh Hang, Deputy Director of Research Institute for Sales Development and Customer Care, said that the model of smart museums, with the connection among private small museums, traditional houses and showrooms, under the support of scientific and technological advances, has become a new method of many museums around the world. Accordingly, documents, artifacts and products from the trade villages are displayed in association with cultural stories and reproduction of the villages’ histories. The application of digital technology will create an experience based environment, helping visitors easily imagine the ‘appearance’ of objectives in the past; thereby the products’ values will be raised, attracting visitors to buy.

In addition, the connection of smart museums within the tourism sector and educational programmes in schools and community should be tightened, contributing to expanding visitors, diversifying experience activities and improving the quality of museums. This is also an effective way to preserve, promote and find output for products from trade villages in the current context.