Nguyễn Văn Huy
For more than a decade (1995–2006), the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has undertaken many journeys: journeys to bring relevant ethnographic objects to the museum; journeys to reach the opening of the museum's permanent exhibition in its new structure–itself shaped like a traditional bronze drum–journeys to prepare temporary exhibitions; journeys to seek out and erect houses of different ethnic groups in the museum's outdoor exhibition; journeys to learn about and present craft demonstrations and performances; journeys to implement educational programs for children; and journeys to introduce multimedia into museum activities. Each journey–creative and educational–has provided opportunities for us to learn about how the people in our country have adapted to changing conditions.
Although all the above journeys took place at different times and involved different, specialized skills of staff members, it can be said that all the journeys shared the same aims: to link the museum with communities; to make the museum more accessible to the public and relevant to contemporary life; and to celebrate the ordinary people of the different ethnic and social groups who hand down the traditions of their ancestors to current and future generations. This is the fundamental orientation of the museum's activities, which I have had the privilege to present in papers at various international conferences dedicated to cooperative learning. Here, I have compiled these papers to provide our friends and colleagues–especially colleagues from museums in Southeast Asia–with a better understanding of the activities of the VME. By reading these papers, one can follow the new road that the VME has taken in fostering and presenting the cultures of ethnic peoples living in Southeast Asia.