The largest exhibition of Cham sculpture in the World
Da Nang, Vietnam — On our second day in Da Nang started early with a museum tour. At first, I thought Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture was a museum that focuses on modern sculptures made by Vietnamese artists. I was totally surprised to see a vast collection of sandstone sculptures that has a huge similarity with those we normally see in Angkor Wat, some temples in Bali, and other parts of Indonesia. Our tour guide shared that these artefacts became part of Vietnamese history roughly during Champa Indic Civilization. The Kingdom of Champa ruled parts of mainland Southeast Asia in the 2nd to 18th centuries AD. Chams were believed to be from Borneo islands who influenced trade in Central and Southern Vietnam between 500 and 1500 AD.
These types of artefacts are something that interests me, primarily because they are not normally seen in our local Museums in Manila. This is why I love cross-country trips whenever I travel to our neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and I truly appreciate the efforts of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for hosting this tour in partnership with Bangkok Airways. Now, more tourists can discover and experience the diverse culture and artistry of ASEAN countries by availing cross-country tours offered by partner tour operators.
About The Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
This museum is located in Hai Chau District in Da Nang and close to the Han River. It was first proposed in 1902 by the country’s Department of Archaeology and the first building was opened in 1919. The museum was designed by French architects named M. Auclair and M. Delaval.
This museum, though small, has the largest collection of Cham artifacts in the world. It has on display over 300 pieces such as alters, garudas (griffin-styled sky beings), lingas (stylized phalluses representing Shiva), apsaras (heavenly nymphs), Brahma, and Vishnu, images of Shiva and Geneshes. All these pieces date back in the 5th to 15th centuries.
Many travelers to Vietnam always neglect the Cham civilization, not knowing what they are missing. The majority of tourists have little or no knowledge of the Cham Kingdom or its past glory.
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture brings together everything about the past Cham Kingdom, including the extensive collection of the sculptures from the kingdom’s civilization, which occupied the central and southern Vietnam until the when the last ruins of the territory were destroyed by the Viet Kingdom back at the beginning of the 19th century.
The ancient Cham civilization grew stronger between the 9th and the 10th centuries, which coincided with the emergence of the Khmer Kingdom in Angkor, Cambodia. The two kingdoms were fierce rivals and the bas reliefs at the temples of Angkor portray the past battles between the two kingdoms.
The Cham territory began to deteriorate after the Vietnamese people moved towards the south from their original location in the Red River Delta.
The Cham people were clever merchandisers and great seafaring as well as ethnically different from the Vietnamese. The Cham practiced Hinduism before they adopted Islamic during the 15th century.
Upon its inception in 1919, the museum has received numerous Cham sculptures from all over the region of Vietnam and its surroundings.
The museum was first extended in the 1930s to include two more galleries to accommodate the pieces collected between 1920s and 1930s. It was then extended in 2002 to have two-story levels that give the museum and extra 1111 square meter space.
Why you should visit Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture?
- The collections in the museum are charming. Majority of the pieces are of terra cotta and sandstone, with a few made of bronze.
- The best sections to start exploring are the sandstone. They include statues of ancient gods, pedestals, holy animals and hieroglyphics as well as architectural decorations from the ancient worshiping sites and temples.
- Each piece in the museum is identified according to the site they were excavated or found, or the function or the form of the piece, including relief, round, architectural details, and pedestals.
- The gods are named with reference to Indian mythology, which is typically based on holy animals.
Some archaeologists have tried to use similarities to classify the Cham sculptures including the hair curls shapes, costumes, decorative designs, and so on. But the most common way of naming each artifact is by using the location where the object was found.
Do’s and Donts while inside the Museum
- All visitors must be in possession of a valid ticket and check-in at the ticket checkpoint. Visitors who are dressed inappropriately will be denied admission.
- Weapons and hazardous materials (including but not limited to explosives, inflammable, and toxic substances) are not permitted within the Museum.
- All large bags (including backpacks and luggage) are not permitted within the Museum. Those bags weighing over 03 kg must be checked at the Baggage Room. The Museum will not be responsible for any valuables left in checked luggage.
- It is forbidden to smoke, wear raincoats, eat or drink within the exhibition spaces. Selling or advertising goods or services within the Museum without the prior approval of the Museum Management is not permitted. Keep the Museum clean and tidy.
- Banners and placards are prohibited within the Museum. Pets are not allowed in exhibition areas. Running, shouting, and other disruptive activities are prohibited.
- It is prohibited to touch the artifacts, climb or sit on any part of the displays.
- Flash photography and tripods are not permitted within the Museum. Special photography or filming sessions require permission from the Museum Management.
- Organizing activities held within the confines of the Museum requires the prior approval of the Museum Management.
- Do not pick flowers, fruits, or any plant parts from the Museum garden.
- Visitors to the museum are liable for any costs or damage incurred due to their conduct, as described under applicable laws.
Hours of operation
Daily, from 7.00 to 17.30
- Guided tours: For a group of more than 5 are available daily from 7:30 to 11:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00. Please contact in advance for tour guides in English and French.
- Free Wifi at some galleries in the Museum.
- Cafeteria and Gift shop: are open daily from 7:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m
- 60.000 VND/ per person.
- For further information of objectives receiving the preferential policy, please contact (84 0236) 3574801
How to Get There
- From the Da Nang airport: about 3 km to the museum.
- From the Da Nang railway station: about 4 km to the museum.
- From the Da Nang Bus station: about 10 km to the museum.
Da Nang Travel and Tour Packages
Marble Mountain and Hoi An Day Tour from Da Nang
Learn more about Vietnam’s Buddhist origins and ancient history on this tour. Get to visit Marble Mountain and its complex of five marble and limestone hills that represent the five main elements of the universe – Iron Mountain (Kim), Wood Mountain (Moc), Water Mountain (Thuy), Fire Mountain (Hoa), and Earth Mountain (Tho).