My fascination with the beauty of the old is endless. I never stop looking for a time capsule of some sort to go back in time, and to live slowly just for a while but mostly for the intriguing historical architecture and art.
As soon as I found out about Viet Phu Thanh Chuong, a private museum complex in Soc Son, Ha Noi, I just needed to see what the place had to offer. Vietnamese heritage and traditions, ceramics, contemporary art, tranquillity, gardens or all of these?
This rather unique experience in Soc Son comes with a price of 130,000 VND, which is about 6 USD, plus transportation cost from central Ha Noi. 6 USD seem cheap but 130,000 VND are not, considering the living cost in Viet Nam. Vietnamese people do not even go to free museums, let alone paying over 100,000 VND.
Still, I paid, and I was kind of pleased. I loved the atmosphere of Viet Phu Thanh Chuong. As the place is out of central Hanoi, it is very tranquil and not too polluted. Different kinds of old trees are kept alongside the reconstructed Vietnamese traditional architecture, which have been built over the last 15 years by the artist Thanh Chuong, hence the name Viet Phu Thanh Chuong. Viet Phu means Vietnamese Palace.
I was very impressed with the intricate details of the architecture, the well-kept gardens and the organised routes through the various small parts of the complex. The place is superb for photography as it is not crowded with tourists.
In my opinion, the private art and archaeology collection displayed at Viet Phu Thanh Chuong was not too exciting, mainly because of the poor display and scattering distribution. Lighting is severely lacking. Items are too repetitive without a clear narrative or theme to connect them. After wandering in the gallery of lacquer contemporary paintings by Thanh Chuong, I suddenly found myself in a room full of ancient ceramics.
Nevertheless, the owners have shown attempts at creating a professional museum by attaching clear labels to items. The items seem to be precious but the way they are introduced to the public is just too tedious. The question is whether people would be more interested if the whole display was to be elaborated. In short, who cares about museum display like me? To be fair, I have not read the brochure given out together with my entrance ticket. Maybe the information I need is in there. The thing is the brochure has too many texts for a summer read and a relaxing morning.
The whole experience is not very authentic because the past has been constructed, and some traditional buildings were kind of miniatures of the real ones. I would rather call Viet Phu Thanh Chuong an adorable wonderland feasting the curiosity of young people. The best thing about this place for me is its escapist quality provided by the enchanting trees and garden decoration. As an art museum, it is not quite outstanding.
Tip: My favourite view is from the top floor of Tuong Van house.