One thing you must do if you find yourself in Vietnam’s capital city is to visit The War Remnants Museum. Located in Ho Chi Minh’s District 3, the museum contains several exhibits relating to the Vietnam War. I have always enjoyed history but had very little knowledge on the war that took place between Vietnam and America, it wasn’t studied during my schooling and it’s not a subject I’m well read on. The little information I did have came from American literature and movies.
The museum comprises a series of themed rooms in several buildings, with period military equipment placed within a walled garden. The military equipment includes a UH-1 Huey helicopter, a F-5A fighter, a BLU-82 ‘Daisy Cutter’ bomb, M48 Patton tank, A-1 ‘Skyraider’ attack bomb and a A-37 ‘Dragonfly’ attack bomb.
Other exhibits include graphic photography and harrowing stories detailing the horrifying effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays, such as napalm and phosphorus bombs. The photographic journey takes you through the horror and utter chaos the use of such chemicals caused the people of Vietnam, not only then during war torn times, but today still. Much of the exhibit is complied of work by Vietnam War photojournalist Bunyo Ishikawa, which he donated to the museum in 1998. Amongst the distressing imagery are three jars of preserved human fetuses, allegedly deformed by exposure to dioxins contained in Agent Orange. Walking around the museum you are met by a deathly silence as visitors take in the sights of war, and disgust for themselves the terrors that took place on both sides.
Although the exhibits are seemingly one-sided, in terms of the museum containing a heavy dose of anti-American propaganda, they do manage to grab your attention from the get go and portray graphically the repulsions of war with a no bars hold approach.
The War Remnants Museum is currently one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, attracting nearly half a million visitors every year. BUt No matter your opinion on Americas involvement in Vietnam, The War Remnants Museum is definitely an eye opener and worth a few hours of your time.
By Sophie Maguire