Germany is located about 10,000 km from Vietnam, yet is more closely linked with this Asian country than with most others. In fact, about 100,000 of the approximately 90 million Vietnamese are living in Germany. And when the 50,000 German tourists who arrive every year in Vietnam talk with the locals, then they have the impression that almost every family has relatives in Germany. In Berlin, Leipzig or Erfurt there are large Vietnamese markets and commercial centers where one can purchase the Asian imports most important to them.
Thus, people from both countries are full of curiosity for each other's culture, tradition and history. But access to the Vietnamese culture is difficult. In archaeology, one must know the difficult Vietnamese language and wade through a complicated network of facts and factoids, traditions and myths – all distributed on about 2,000-3,000 printed pages per year with mostly short excavation reports. Abroad, the understanding of Vietnamese archaeology lags decades behind the actual state of research.
In the last ten years, about ten foreign teams were active at various ancient sites from the early Stone Age to the Funan period or Óc Eo culture in whole Vietnam. This work provided some insights into the early history of Vietnam's culture, but not a balanced overview.
The planned exhibition in Germany on the archaeology of Vietnam will offer visitors something long overdue: An overview of the finest that the Vietnamese archaeologists have discovered over the past 50 years. Discoveries will be exhibited that have never before been seen outside of Vietnam.
Already in 2004, the project was conceived of by the archaeologist Dr. Daniel Bérenger, leader of the Bielefeld branch of the Regional Association of Westphalia. At first, it was thought of as an exhibition that brings together visual art and archaeological elements. From 2006, an exhibition with the working title of "Early Cultures -Traditional Crafts" was discussed. In February 2008, the concept of a special exhibition at Herne titled “Nam Viet -Vietnam: Myth and History" was discussed at the political level.
Since that time, others involved in the project include: Dr. Joseph Mühlenbrock (Head of the LWL-Museum of Archaeology), Dr. Barbara Rüschoff-Thale (Head of the culture department of the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe) and Prof. Dr. Michael M. Rind (Director of the LWL-Archaeology of Westphalia).
At the end of 2009, the LWL-Museum Herne found a first partner for the Vietnam exhibition. The Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums / Museum of World Cultures in Mannheim were impressed by the exhibition idea and at the end of 2009, the Director General Prof. Alfried Wieczorek and the director of the Museum of World Cultures Dr. Michael Tellenbach agreed to support this exhibition as cooperation partners.
Since April 2011, the Saxony State Office for Archaeology in Chemnitz, represented by the State archaeologist Dr. Regina Smolnik, and since April 2012 by the museum’s director, Dr. Sabine Wolfram and exhibition director Dr. Jens Beutmann, is involved as the third partner in this project.
In preparation for the exhibition, from 29 February to 3 March 2012 an international colloquium on the archaeology of Vietnam was held at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi. In early July 2012, a co-operation with the German Archaeological Institute was established. The President of the DAI, Prof. Frederike Fless, signed a cooperation agreement. Dr. Andreas Reinecke was appointed to be the chief curator of the exhibition.
From 23-27 July, Dr. Andreas Reinecke, Dr. Stefan Leenen (responsible for the exhibition management) and Daniela Schrudde (responsible for the colloquium and organizational issues) made concrete agreements about the content and timing of the exhibition with all Vietnamese partners in Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh-City.
At first, the exhibition will be shown at the LWL-Museum for Archaeology in Herne from September to December 2016. Then, from January to April 2017 the exhibition will be based at the House of Archaeology and History in Chemnitz in Saxony and from May to August 2017 at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums / Museum of World Cultures in Mannheim. A fourth exhibition venue is planned at a museum in Hanoi.
A catalogue about the archaeology of Vietnam will be published in German and possibly also in Vietnamese, in which an international authorship participates. Main chapters are devoted to the different archaeological periods. In addition, papers about the development of ceramics, coins and shipwrecks discoveries are being considered.
At present, an exhibits /complexes list with the 100 most spectacular archaeological discoveries of the Vietnamese archaeologists in the last 50 years is under way. Under the editorship of Dr. Andreas Reinecke are working on this list: Dr. Lê Thị Liên (Vietnam Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi), Prof. Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung and Bùi Hữu Tiến (Hanoi University), Prof. Bùi Chí Hoàng (Director of the Center for Archaeology of Southern Vietnam), Trần Kỳ Phương (Independent Researcher and Expert for Cham Arts, Danang), Dr. William Southworth (Curator of Southeast Asian Art at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam), Dr. Brigitte Borell (Specialist for early western imports in Southeast Asia, Heidelberg) and Dr. Nguyễn Văn Việt (Director of the Center for Prehistory of Southeast Asia, Hanoi).
Moreover, first agreements with potential authors of the main chapters of the catalog are taking place. In addition, the publication of the papers of the conference held in February/March 2012 in Hanoi in preparation for the exhibition is being prepared for printing.
The exhibition "Treasures of Vietnamese Archaeology" (working title) will be produced in German-Vietnamese cooperation. On the German side are the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the LWL-Museum for Archaeology in Herne, the “House of Archeology and History” in Chemnitz (Saxony State Archaeological Museum) and the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums in Mannheim / Museum of World Cultures.
Representative on the Vietnamese side is the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Institutional partners include the Heritage Branch (responsible for the provincial museums), the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi, the Center for the Preservation of the ancient citadel of Hanoi, the Ha Noi Museum and the Institute of Archaeology of Vietnam.
For the current work the following colleagues are nominated as counterparts in Vietnam:
At the Heritage Branch of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (director: Dr. Nguyễn Thế Hùng) Mr. Nguyễn Hải Ninh,
at the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi (director: Dr. Nguyễn Văn Cường) Ms Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương,
at Thăng Long – Hanoi Heritage Conservation Centre (director: Dr. Nguyễn Văn Sơn) Ms Nguyễn Hồng Chi,
at the Hanoi Museum (director: Dr. Nguyễn Văn Hùng) Ms. Phạm Mỹ Linh,
at the Museum of History in Ho-Chi-Minh-City (director: Dr. Trần Thị Thủy Phường) Ms Nguyễn Khác Xuân Thi,
at the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi (director: Prof. Tống Trung Tín) Dr. Lê Thị Liên.
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hanoi with the Ambassador Ms Jutta Frasch, and the Attaché for Cultural Affairs, Mr. Jonas Koll, is the German representative of the project in Vietnam. The General Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ho-Chi-Minh-City with the Consul General Mr. Conrad Karl Cappell with the assistance of Birgit Fisel-Rösle and Trần Thùy Linh supports this project in the southern half of Vietnam. The Goethe Institute in Hanoi is integrated in the preparatory operations with its director, Dr. Almuth Meyer-Zollitsch. The organization works in Vietnam are done by Dr. Trần Thị Hòa Bình from the Goethe Institute.
Dr. Andreas Reinecke
Andreas Reinecke and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Luyến alias Luyen Reinecke.
Please send us comments, suggestions, additions or corrections to this website that is updated every three months.
Last update: July 2013.