The University of Queensland (UQ) Museum Studies Field School took place in Vietnam from January 4 to 15 this year. Focusing on the theme of Memory, the course was organised around workshops taking in museums and heritage sites in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue and Hoi An. The thirty participants, composed of UQ postgraduates and Vietnamese museum workers, explored a variety of issues on memory, in particular through an analysis of historical photographs, a collection of objects depicting the subsidy era in Vietnam, narratives of the anti-French and American War, as well as the use of personal narrative and tone in representing the past.
One of the many highlights was a visit to the Dong Dinh Museum, in Son Tra, Da Nang, where we met the owner Mr Giao. His beautiful open-air museum is perched on the side of the mountain overlooking the bay, and includes an installation called ‘Memory of a Fishing Village’. The installation is constructed using old pieces of fishing boats and coracles which can still be seen on the beaches in Da Nang.
The group also visited to Hoi An and Hue where they witnessed intangible heritage as a form of performance. In the Hoi An Museum of Folklife and in the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum, participants were able to participate in silk weaving, pottery and paper making. The museums are playing a leading role in transmitting traditional crafts to future generations.
The field school concluded in the Museum of Da Nang where the participants presented their own memory-work projects to a community reference, who gave their feedback. The groups proposed projects on ‘Memories of the Han River Waterfront’; ‘Nam O Fish Sauce’; ‘Changing Modes of Transport in Da Nang’; and ‘Stories of Relocation from a Fishing Village to the City’.
The Field School was kindly supported by the Australian Government’s Endeavour Asia Postgraduate Programme, the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, and the University of Queensland Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.