The Vietnam National Museum of History’s (VNMH) collection of 200,000-plus artifacts, documenting the country’s prehistory and culture, don’t just live onsite, but online too. As early as 2013, Vietnam’s leading historic institution has been broadening its digital presence, notably with interactive virtual tours, exhibitions featuring virtual reality and 3D technology, and online educational programs for children. Many of these virtual offerings were developed in collaboration with their partner, software company Vietsoftpro.

Most recently, VNMH’s unveiled the virtual exhibition, The National Treasure, featuring a selection of Dong Son artifacts that visitors can view in 360 degrees via an interactive display. Such use of 3D technology, Doan Thu Hien of VNMH’s Department of International Cooperation tells Jing Culture & Commerce, is pioneering in the region: “The VNMH is the first museum in Vietnam to apply 3D technology [to] exhibition[s].

The museum’s National Treasure virtual exhibition invites users to explore and interact with each artifact via an animated 3D display. Image: VNMH

Additionally, VNMH’s education programs, History Class (developed in conjunction with Microsoft Vietnam) and the I Love History club (previously done in-person), have engaged over 5,360 students in 275 classes across the globe. Classes are taught via Zoom, and incorporate interactive games and activities to engage primary and secondary school students. While enabling students to more deeply engage with the venue’s collections, these educational offerings, says Hien, represents “an important contribution to promoting and introducing the cultural heritage of [Vietnam].”

In the larger scope, VNMH’s push towards digitization is aimed at developing its Vietnamese cultural heritage database, E-Heritage. “Along with the digitization of documents and objects for the purpose of introducing to the public, in 2014, the VNHM also digitized objects kept in the [museum’s] storage,” Hien says. He notes E-Heritage will be utilized for future online exhibitions, education, archival preservation, and more. 

VNMH’s virtual tours include an immersive presentation of its prehistoric gallery (above), complete with audio commentary and interactive panels that can be clicked to display more information about each exhibit. Image: VNMH

According to Hien, VNMH is also in the process of developing a mobile app audio guide, AR technology, and QR codes. Further, it’s working with Vietsoftpro to “build a technology platform dedicated to the museum’s display and introduction activities to ensure convenience in use and effectiveness for the programs.”

VNMH plans to continue virtual activities even after the pandemic. Says Hien, “Since the 2010s, the VNMH has determined that the application of technology in operations is an inevitable trend of modern museums,” happening alongside the “comprehensive digital transformation of all fields of Vietnam.” He adds that virtual events allow for audience diversification and that “online tour programs will meet very effectively for the public who do not have chance to visit museum.”