The Museum’s building was constructed during the French colonial period. It was originally a boarding school for daughters of French officials.
In 1962, the Vietnamese Government ordered the Ministry of Culture to transform this building into a place to collect, exhibit and preserve the precious and special works of art of Vietnam from the prehistoric time until present days. The building was renovated and Vietnamese architectural elements were added, making it a building suitable for an art museum.
In 1966, the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum officially opened to the public. The entire area of the museum is 4,737m2 of which the exhibition space is around 3,000m2. In addition to the permanent displays, the Museum has a space for temporary exhibitions, a Creative Space for Children and a Café. Besides the main site in Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, the Museum has second site in Hoang Cau Street where professional departments, collections storage, and a conservation center located.
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum currently holds over 18,000 domestic artifacts that represent Vietnam’s art from prehistoric times to the present.
- Prehistory and Early History Fine Arts: This exhibition presents objects in different themes: production tools, weapons, objects of everyday life, ornaments, artistic figurines and musical instruments.
- Art from the 11th to the 19 Century AD: This is the most brilliant development period of Vietnamese ancient sculpture.
- Art from the Early 20th Century AD. to the Present Day: The display is divided into two orientations: the divergence of art history (1925-1945 and 1945-1954) and exhibits material works with collections of lacquer, silk, oil paints, graphics, and sculptures (from 1954 to present).
- Traditional Applied Art: Handmade techniques are shown on every material available such as bamboo, textiles, shell inlays, conch, metal carvings…
- Folk Art: The collection at the Museum focuses on introducing two outstanding types: folk paintings and folk statues.
- Vietnamese Ceramic Art from 11th Century to 20th Century: The exhibition presents the prominent characteristics of unglazed and glazed ceramics throughout different historical periods such as Celadon Glaze and Ivory – Yellow Cracked Glaze Ceramics; Brown Pattern Ceramics; Cobalt-Blue Pattern Ceramics; Contemporary Ceramics.