Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
Số 02 Đ. 2 Tháng 9, Bình Hiên, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
|⏰ Opening Hours
7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
Find it on google maps
What is Cham Museum?
The Cham Museum, also known as the Bảo Tàng Chăm, is a magnificent repository of art and sculpture in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. Nestled close to the Han River, this museum harbors the world's most extensive collection of Cham artifacts, originating from the ancient Champa Kingdom. When you walk through the museum's corridors, you're not just exploring a building; you're stepping back in time to encounter the spiritual and artistic expressions of an entire civilization that thrived in Central and Southern Vietnam from the 7th to the 15th centuries.
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I often tell visitors that as you move between the museum's galleries, the intricately carved sandstone sculptures seem to speak of myths, gods, and the lives of the Cham people. With over 400 pieces on display, the museum embraces an assortment of Hindu-themed statues, engravings, and relics, all preserved meticulously since the age of the powerful Cham dynasties. It's an intimate journey into history that begins the moment you admire the museum's architecture, inspired by the Cham's own red-brick sanctuaries.
History of Cham Museum
The story of the Cham Museum starts at the tail end of the 19th century when French scholars and archaeologists became fascinated with the Cham culture. Dedicated in 1919 under the auspices of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient (French School of the Far East), the original idea was to safeguard the precious Cham sculptures discovered in scattered sites across Vietnam. The French architect Henri Parmentier played a pivotal role in its establishment, and his profound influence is evident in the museum's design.
It's a little-known fact that during its early years, the museum was just a simple, open-air collection of artifacts. As the collection grew, so did the need for a more protective environment, which led to the construction of the first building in 1936. Over the decades, the Cham Museum has expanded and evolved, with new galleries and upgrades that maintain the original charm of its beginnings. It's a living testament to the value that these ancient relics hold for both the local community and the world.
Why is Cham Museum Important?
The Cham Museum stands as an integral treasure trove that offers a window into the Cham civilization, which is an essential part of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. For the Vietnamese people and cultural historians alike, the significance of the museum extends beyond its physical collection. It represents the continuity of a culture that has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, colonial incursions, and the test of time.
But it's the intricate carvings, which are considered masterpieces of stone sculpture, that spotlight the Champa Kingdom's remarkable craftsmanship and aesthetic sensibility. It helps us understand the spiritual beliefs, the iconography of Shiva, Vishnu, and other Hindu deities that were central to the Cham people, and their skill in merging art with spirituality. The Cham Museum tells a forgotten chapter of Southeast Asian history, bringing to life the stories that would otherwise be lost.
Things to Do & See at Cham Museum
Venturing through the Cham Museum is an excursion into art and history. Start with the My Son Gallery, named after the famous archaeological site, where you'll find striking depictions of the Hindu gods and stories carved into the surfaces of the sculptures. Each piece, with its unique expression and detail, tells part of a larger narrative that shaped the Cham culture.
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Don't miss the chance to admire the remarkable altar of the deity Tara, showcasing the delicate artisanship that is characteristic of the Cham. As you wander, you'll see that each room is themed to different regions where the Champa Kingdom once stood, such as Dong Duong, Tra Kieu, and Thap Mam. In these rooms, it's the dance of light and shadow over the sculptures that brings them to life, a subtle reflection of the spiritual depth they hold.
It's also worth to join one of the specialized guided tours which happen occasionally, revealing lesser-known facts and stories about the Cham people and their artifacts. If you're lucky, you might even witness a live demonstration of Cham dance and music. I always recommend checking the museum's schedule before visiting, to make the most of these rare opportunities. Lastly, spend some time in the museum garden, where some larger sculptures are displayed amidst lush greenery, tapping into that serene link between art, nature, and history that the Cham understood so well.