Just behind the Opera House, Hanoi’s History Museum offers a good overview of Vietnam’s history from prehistoric times to the end of the Second World War. Although the arrangement of the exhibits follows the usual chronological sequence, many of the individual artefacts are good quality.
However, in common with most museums in Vietnam, the History Museum falls down on interpretation. Most of the labels are in Vietnamese only, and do little more than identify the objects to which they refer. There are few attempts to place the articles in their context or to show their significance. Some showcases are packed with almost identical exhibits.
Built in 1931 as a French cultural research and conservation institution, the present-day museum carries on that tradition. The architecture is typical of the of the later French Colonial period that incorporated Vietnamese elements to create a unique and impressive style.