Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An | My Detailed Review

Today, I will take you to discover the Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An, founded by the famous French photographer Réhahn.

Dedicated to the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam, this private museum, which opened in 2017, quickly became a must-see for all lovers of culture and history. It invites you to follow Réhahn’s initiatory journey, meeting the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam through his lens.

Follow the guide to explore this unique window on Vietnamese heritage, a must-visit for anyone visiting Hoi An.

The French photographer Réhahn

Originally from Normandy, French photographer Réhahn is famous for his captivating portraits that transcend cultural boundaries. Since settling in Vietnam in 2011, he has captured the soul of his subjects with rare sincerity, using photography as a universal bridge between stories, emotions, and traditions.

rehahn photographe francais hoi an vietnam

His works, exhibited internationally and published in several books, explore identity and diversity, while highlighting the simple beauty of everyday life. Committed to cultural preservation, Réhahn works closely with local communities to help maintain their ancestral traditions.

His photos have been published in prestigious journals such as Geo, National Geographic, The New York Times, BBC, among others.

What to see at the Precious Heritage Museum and Art Gallery

musee precious heritage hoi an 1

Located in the old French quarter of Hoi An, the museum, housed in a 19th-century French historical residence, displays a rich collection of over 200 photographs by the artist, 60 traditional costumes, and various everyday objects from the ethnic groups, spanning over 450 m².

Note that the museum is entirely in English and French and free of charge.

The Art Gallery

musee precious heritage hoi an galerie photos

The first section of the museum functions as an art gallery dedicated to the works of the photographer, some of which have even adorned the covers of prestigious magazines such as Geo and National Geographic.

This part also highlights the personal stories of the photographed subjects, like that of Madame Bui Thi Xong, a former boatwoman from the port of Hoi An, featured on the cover of Réhahn’s first book, “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts,” and whose photo is found at the Women’s Museum in Hanoi or An Phuoc, a little girl with blue eyes from the Cham community in Vietnam.

You will also find the photographer’s various projects, such as the ‘Giving Back’ project, which consists of supporting the models he has photographed in various ways (either by buying a boat, a buffalo, chickens, etc.).

If you are not yet familiar with the artist, this is a good introduction before diving into the museum itself.

The Museum

costume au musee precious heritage hoi an

This place transcends the traditional concept of a museum to become a true personal exploration of the photographer’s epic journey through Vietnam. You experience the adventure that Réhahn lived through his photos and writings. That’s why I call it an explorer’s museum.

The first thing you will hear upon entering the museum is traditional ethnic music. This may seem trivial but it adds a little extra to the experience.

The first part of the museum, on 2 floors, dedicated to the ethnic minorities of northern Vietnam, is particularly enriching. Here, you will discover the representative costumes of 33 ethnic groups from the North, including the H’mong and Dao, as well as less known ethnic groups to tourists.

The second part of the museum is dedicated to the ethnic groups of central and southern Vietnam, which are mostly unknown and less accessible to tourists than the northern ethnic groups, except for the Cham, whose achievements include the My Son sanctuary, but that’s another story.

You will discover the O Du, the smallest ethnic group in Vietnam with only 376 people, or the costume of the Si La ethnicity, which includes ancient French coins.

Each costume in the museum is accompanied by a large 2-meter high photograph and informative panels in English and French that detail the characteristics of the different ethnic groups with the number of individuals, location, etc.

These panels are also enriched by personal texts from the photographer, recounting his encounters with each ethnic group. And that makes all the difference between an ordinary museum and the Precious Heritage Museum, as you feel the odyssey it must have been to meet the different ethnic minorities, some of whom have never met a foreigner in their life.

Personally, I was transported by Réhahn’s stories, and it’s as if I was by his side during the adventure.

Unique Collection of Costumes of the Ethnic Groups of Vietnam

This is the only museum in Vietnam, and even in the world, that has an authentic costume from each of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam, some of which are no longer made.

Among them, one of the oldest (over 100 years) and rarest costumes is the Co Tu tree bark costume, which was offered by the chief of the Co Tu ethnicity.

Scattered throughout the museum, you can discover everyday objects of the ethnic groups, such as headgear, pipes, shoes, earrings, musical instruments, and even ancient swords. There is a lack of information on some objects whose utility I did not understand.

You will also find two models, one of which represents a Co Tu village, located in the part dedicated to the central ethnic groups.

The Indigo Room

Between the section dedicated to northern Vietnam and the center/south of Vietnam, an indigo room unveils the ecological process used by the ethnic groups to create their vibrant blue dyes. You will also learn about ancient textile methods, such as hemp cultivation and batik technique, perpetuated for centuries. These skills are essential to the culture, heritage, and, sometimes, livelihoods of these ethnic groups.

In addition, a 52-minute documentary, broadcast in French and English, invites you to follow the artist Réhahn’s encounters with different tribes and to explore the meticulous work of the indigo artisans.

Address & opening hours of the Precious Heritage Museum

entree musee precious heritage hoi an rehahn

My Opinion

For me, the Réhahn’s Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An | My Detailed Review, without contest. Whether you are a lover of photography, history, culture, or just want to discover the ethnic groups of Vietnam, a visit to this museum is a must.

It is a unique place not to be missed during your trip to Vietnam.

Similar Posts