To bring to light the cultural and military contributions made by South Vietnamese women over the ages, the Women’s Museum of Southern Vietnam or Bao Tang Phu Nu Nam Bo was established in 1985. The ten rooms here span three stories and are filled with fascinating displays, ranging from military plaques and medals to a selection of beautiful ethnic costumes.
The tour usually begins from the third floor. The exhibits in this set of rooms are dedicated to women who were involved in the 20th-century communist struggle for independence and unification. Their photographs line the walls, and some of their personal effects are displayed in glass cases, providing a reminder that Vietnamese women were no strangers to combat. The second floor continues the theme, with the addition of statues and large paintings of historical events involving women. There is also a re-creation of the prison cell that once held a national heroine captive.
However, the first floor, with its focus on traditional crafts and customs, is the most colorful. The anteroom, with a mock-up of a temple entrance bedecked with many artifacts, is dedicated to the ancient Vietnamese practice of goddess worship. In the next room, faux terraces feature mannequins dressed in exquisite regional costumes. In a large room to the left is a complex exhibit about the production of cotton cloth and rush mats. These products are woven by women in craft villages of the south.
The museum complex also boasts a movie theater, a small library, and a boutique.