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Art in the Rotunda: The Cham Collection at the National Museum of Vietnamese History



Abstract  National museums play an important role in representing national identities in complex and culturally diverse societies. The National Museum of Vietnamese History was established by the government in 1958 to preserve the country’s national heritage and present a discourse of nation building from prehistory up to 1945, when the country gained independence from French colonialism. Among the museum’s permanent exhibits, a collection of Champa sculptures is presented in the rotunda, separately from the main historical displays. The Champa Kingdom, approximately from the second to the nineteenth centuries in the present day central Vietnam, is known for its outstanding artistic and architectural achievements. In 1832, Champa was absorbed by inline image and Cham people became an ethnic minority group in present-day Vietnam. This paper analyzes the representation of the museum's Cham collection and explores how the politics of display of contested materials has changed through time and in forming national identity construction in the museum.

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