Exploring the changing face of Vietnamese museums

12 January 2017
Students and staff at Museum Studies Field School in Vietanm
UQ Museum Field School in Hanoi January 2017, at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts

This month, UQ museum studies students have travelled to Vietnam to gain an in-depth understanding of the key issues and challenges facing museums and heritage institutions in the post-socialist state.

The third annual Museum Studies Field School, supported by an Endeavour Asia Postgraduate mobility grant from the Australian Government, is currently taking place.

It brings together 11 postgraduate UQ students and 16 Vietnamese museum staff in central and northern Vietnam for a series of cross-cultural workshops using problem-based learning methods.

The program has already led to career outcomes for UQ students. In the past two years, three participants have gone on to complete internships for Vietnamese museums.

Program Convener Associate Professor Graeme Were said the Field School was themed ‘Education and Audiences’ and explored how Vietnamese museums were responding to contemporary cultural shifts.

“Vietnamese museums are undergoing a renewal process through rebuilding projects and international collaboration,” Associate Professor Were said.

“Traditionally they have been sites for patriotic education, communicating the nationalist message of achievement and unity.”

“Now museums are changing. With a rapidly increasing young population and growing international tourism, museums face the challenge of diversifying audiences and engaging new visitors through innovative education programs that seek to reshape official histories.”

UQ and the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism (MOCST) have a long-term commitment to joint museum and heritage projects, workshops, policy development, and training.

The institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 to encourage reciprocal knowledge exchange and capacity building.

In May 2015, Associate Professor Were also organised an Australian Government-funded Australia Awards Fellowships course at UQ, where 10 Vietnamese museum professionals undertook specialist management training on enhancing the effectiveness of museums and heritage institutions.

UQ staff are encouraged to submit mobility project applications for the 2018 round of the Endeavour Mobility Grants for Short-term Projects, which is expected to open mid-year. Contact UQ Global Engagement to learn more about student mobility and prestigious scholarship opportunities.