War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants Museum : Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes , this is a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching, dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict. The exhibit includes the last shots these photographers had taken before their deaths. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks and cannons captured from the American military machine.

The War Remnants Museum is a comprehensive collection of the machinery, weapons, photos, and documentation of Vietnam’s wars with the both the French and Americans (though the emphasis is heavily on the latter). The museum was once called the War Crimes Museum, which should give you an idea of whose side of the story is being told here. Short of being outright recrimination, this museum is a call for peace and a hope that history is not repeated — visitors are even asked to sign a petition against the kind of aerial carpet-bombing that so devastated the people of Vietnam. The exhibit begins to the right of the entrance with a room listing war facts: troop numbers, bomb tonnage, statistics on international involvement in the conflict, and numbers of casualties on both sides.
Next is a room dedicated to the journalists who were lost during the war. The exhibits are constantly evolving, and the museum is currently expanding and modernizing, improving its presentation and explanations throughout. One room is devoted to biological warfare, another to weaponry, and another to worldwide demonstrations for peace. The explanations, which include English translations, are very thorough. There is a large collection of bombs, planes, tanks, and war machinery in the main courtyard. Kids will love it, but you might want to think twice before taking them inside to see things like wall-size photos of the My Lai massacre and the bottled deformed fetus supposedly damaged by Agent Orange. There’s also a model of the French colonial prisons, called the Tiger Cages, on the grounds.

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