Analysts said what Vietnam’s museums need is not another sum of money, but improved staffs and curatorial services, while newspaper readers nationwide have cited the country’s lack of schools, hospitals, roads and food for the hungry as part of their questioning of the rationale behind the investment, a Saigon newspaper said in a recent report.
Many people have pointed to the Hanoi Museum, which cost more than $96 million to build, but which recently closed and is not set reopen until 2014 at the soonest, as it drew poor attendance after opening in 2010 as part of the capital’s 1,000th anniversary celebration.
“Will the thousands of billions of [dollars] bring any positive changes to Vietnam’s cultural life, or will it be another waste?” asked Professor Phan Huy Le, chairman of Vietnam History Association.
He said the plan needs to be rethought carefully.
The government, however, has said nothing to indicate it will amend plans for the new natural history museum.
The Ministry of Construction said it will use tax revenues from the state budget to build the building that would hypothetically be completed by July 2016. But nothing more specific has been announced.
A number of cultural experts refused to be interviewed by the newspaper, and those who were interviewed had little to say, as the government did not consult them before announcing the project.
But they all expressed doubt that four years would be enough time to acquire the necessary human resources and fill the building with exhibits, which are slated to include an outdoor section for large relics and cultural spaces.
Dr. Nguyen Van Luc, director of the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, said the relics and curators need to be prepared along with the construction.
He said it took his museum, a prominent one among Viet Nam’s some 150 museums, more than 10 years to build.
Foreign experts are also concerned about staffing the new museum.
Christine Hemmet, a curator at the Quai Branly Museum in France, who has made various contributions to museums in Viet Nam, said she has repeatedly mentioned to Vietnamese professors that the country lacks quality curators.
She said during her time in Vietnam, she found that most museum curators needed further training.