HCMC Art Museum was established under the Decision No. 194/QD-UB of the City People’s Committee on September 5, 1987. After being renovated, the Museum officially came into operation in 1991.
The crucial task and function of HCMC Art Museum is collecting, keeping, preserving and displaying fine-art articles, traditional fine arts handicraft typical of the Vietnamese people through its historic periods within the city and Southern provinces.
At present, The HCMC Art Museum has the two main displaying sites, the entire second floor shows paintings and sculptures by many domestic and foreign artists. Diversified in styles and substances, the works primarily focus on two topics "fighting for the father-land" and "building a peaceful life". Many among them are popular such as: Thai Ha, Quach Phong, Nguyen Sang, Hoang Tram, Tu Duyen, Nguyen Thanh Chau, Tran Van Lam, Nguyen Hai, Dung Tien, Phan Mai Truc, Ho Huu Thu, Nguyen Trung, Trinh Cung, Do Quang Em... Especially, there is a series of famous lacquer paintings known as "Central - South - North Spring Garden", which used to gain wide recognition in and outside the country, by late painter Nguyen Gia Tri. This is also a Vietnam’s National precious work. The author spent ten years on searching, composing, and in it an area of 10.8m2 in a tradition lacquer style. Many drafts and paintings chronicles of the genius painter have been preserved here. In addition to some other valuable works such as the painting "Uncle Ho in Viet Bac battle field", "Pac Po forest", "Lenin stream" painted by painter Diep Minh Chau in the battle field of Viet Bac in 1951. Two Uncle Ho’s portraits by painter Alexander Fitomiroxki (former Soviet Union) still remain the signature of the leader of Vietnamese people - President Ho Chi Minh, and some works by painter Xu Man from the Highland ethnic minority.
Third floor exhibits antiquities in many rooms. The room for antiques from the Vietnamese and the Chinese living in Vietnam displays items made of ceramics, vermilion & gilding, and pearl inlaid wood created from between the 17th Century and the early of the 20th Century. Palaeozoic fine arts comprizing of five solemn room shows "Oc Eo" items in the Mekong Delta (stone, wooden statues appearing more than 14 centuries ago) items from the Champa minority in the Central Vietnam and the Khmer minority in the West of South Vietnam. These items presents a high-level fine arts from the 7th century to the 17th century.
Moreover, there is another room displaying the Vietnamese traditional handicraft from the 11th century to the early of the 20th century, consisting of ceramics, pearl inlaid wood brass ware, and an exhibition room for Western arts coming to Vietnam from the 18th century and the early of the 20th century.
Besides the collecting and displaying of fine arts, The HCMC Art Museum often organizes exhibitions introducing many foreign and domestic artists in the first floor. From 1993 on, many art exhibitions have been held here every year. Some gave spectators attraction and good impression such as "National Art Gallery" in 1990, "National Exhibition on ten years of sculpture" in 1983 - 1993, "War and both side’s view-points" by American and Vietnamese Artists working together, the 30th exhibitions on Asian modern arts, the displaying of works by female sculptor Diem Phung Thi, by Chinese artists or by 6 artists in Saigon.
Through these exhibitions The HCMC Art Museum made its contribution to the education of knowledge and pride in the national cultural tradition in all walks of life, boosting the creativity of new generations, making better understanding and closer ties between the world and the country and people of Vietnam.
The HCMC Art Museum is intended to build more displaying rooms in the future for the purpose of introducing South East Asian ceramics art, world art, applied art and fine art through the architecture of the Vietnamese ethnic minorities. So far, most of things displayed in the Art Museum have been presented by friends and government bodies. Because of lacking the budget, the Museum could not collect precious works with artistic value. Therefore, The HCMC Art Museum has been keen on financial support from City People’s Committee, the cooperation and help from the government bodies as well as friends in order o preserve and keep the national precious cultural heritages, making this place worth being a great school for the present and future generations.
Reprinted with permission from VietNam News