In 2010, the Museum of the Cultures of Vietnam’s Ethnic Groups celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation – a long time to look back. We are all proud of the overall current success contributed by the efforts of each member. Along with the development of the Museum of the Cultures of Vietnam’s Ethnic Groups, the inventory and preservation of the artifacts in the museum also have significantly developed in scientific documentation, researching, exploiting and preserving documents and artifacts in order to keep them integrity in terms of legality, serving researches, exhibition, education and propaganda inside and outside the Museum.


The Viet Bac Museum was established on 1st of December 1960. From the period of 1960 – 1975, it was known as a local museum serving for general researches. Right from the beginning, the warehouse of the Museum received a large volume of artifacts contributed by the local peoples and from Vietnam History Museum on the occasion of celebrating the foundation day of the Viet Bac autonomous region in 1956 and the exhibition celebrated five years of the region establishment in 1961. Among these historical artifacts, only some had obvious content and profile while the majority with unknown origin, content and background. Meanwhile, the staff working in inventory was a few and unqualified, and often had to take many different roles. In this period, the inventory was interrupted because the warehouse of the Museum had to be evacuated in many places to avoid bombards of American bomber.

In 1975, the Viet Bac autonomous region was dismissed, the Museum conducted an inventory of entire artifacts in stock for the first time, checked the recorded objects with the real ones, adjusted the content and then recorded. However, the job was done administratively not scientifically. According to initial statistics of 1975, there were 13,910 artifacts including objects, texted documents and movies in the warehouse.

The period of 1976 – 1983, as requirement for redirecting the display contents of the museum to focus on the cultures of Vietnam’s ethnic groups, the revolutionary materials and artifacts were largely transferred to other museums. Therefore, the Museum’s Science Council conducted the second inventory to improve the quality of science, to ensure the basic principles of the inventory of the exhibits. The job was based on the real exhibits, statistics of the first inventory, temporary stored books and other record to insure the content and the scientific and historical significance of each kind. For the artifacts, which had unknown background needed to be re-verified. Through the overall inventory, there were nearly 8,000 artifacts being officially and legally registered in the book of initial inventory. From 1982 -2000, the Museum of the Cultures of Vietnam’s Ethnic Groups held nearly 138 times to collect artifacts from 54 ethnic groups from the provinces and cities in over the country. Nearly 9,000 exhibits and more than 3,000 valuable films, tapes about ethnic culture heritage were transported to warehouses of the Museum, brought the total number of documents and artifacts in stock up to more than 17,000 units. Those documents and artifacts were recorded in the inventory book (property book) and categorized, classified and preserved in a scientific and accurate way.

In the 1980s, all the staff working in the inventory earned university degrees in museum, and further studied or got more working experience of inventory at national and local museums. Especially, in 1994 with the fund from SIDA (Sweden), the inventory staff got a traineeship in inventory and preservation by experts from Sweden and the Netherlands, which made the inspection of size, status, finding out the specific characteristics or description of each kind, taking photograph to paste on the passport service well for researching, exhibiting, educating inside and outside the Museum. In 1997, the scientific subject at local level “Complete notebooks and scientific form for the Museum” was studied and applied in practice. In this project, people studied and selected of 06 types of notebook and 04 kinds of card serving for the inventory. Especially in 1999, the Museum of Cultures of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups printed 10 types of above books and cards.

From 2000-2010, the inventory – preserve staff of the Museum improved in both quantity and quality. Currently, there are 15 staff in the Inventory – Preserve Department: 1 doctor, 2 masters, 9 bachelors and 3 technicians. The department is divided into 3 teams and a division: the teams of Scientific Inventory (4 people), Preserve (5 people), Technique (4 people) and Library division (2 people).

In 2000, after the completion of entire inventory, under the direction of the Ministry of Culture and Information (now Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism), more than 10 thousand documents and artifacts about the history of the revolution and the Viet Bac people and its nature were transferred to Museums of Lang Son, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang and Thai Nguyen, Military History Museum, Museum of Armed Force Region I and Ho Chi Minh Museum. These national cultural materials and artifacts continued to be under the processes of scientific inventory.

From 2000 to 2009, the Museum boosted the fund for the projects of collecting additional materials and artifacts from the cultures of 54 ethnic groups in the whole country, carried out 105 times of researching, surveying and collecting to bring to the warehouse 9,746 documents and artifacts, which raised the total number of nearly 30,000. These documents and artifacts were seriously, scientifically and accurately done and ensured the legal in accordance with the scientific inventory.