In our effort to do something new and exciting every weekend in Saigon, we attempted to go to the Têt Flower Festival that was supposed to start today. Well, it does start today, but not until this evening. Bummer. We were already downtown, and I had been wanting to visit the art museum for sometime now, so we made it happen.
I can't decide what I liked best about the museum: the actual building (historical French colonial built for a wealthy Chinese family), the ancient Cham pieces, the propaganda posters, or the dozens of Buddha statues.
As far as an art museum goes, it felt a little unprofessional. A few paintings were bulging our of their frames due to the constant exposure to heat and humidity. The windows of the building were all open, and there was a nice breeze, but I can only imagine how rough the tropical weather is on artwork. Not to mention the fact the several pieces were clearly being touched on a regular basis. There was a stone piece from the 7th century Cham people that was just sitting out in the open. It surprised me to see how nonchalant they were with so many pieces.
I really loved the building and the stunning tiled floors throughout. I also got a kick out of the classic "bowl of fruit" pictures that featured the infamous durian fruit. How the artist could stand the retched smell long enough to paint that, I will never know.
The propaganda paintings were also very interesting to see--especially as an American. There were a surprising number of Anti-American posters that were from northern Vietnam. Part of the reason I love traveling is to be able to see the world from new perspectives, and it is these somewhat awkward circumstances that really challenge the norms I know.