VietNamNet Bridge – From now until the end of the year, a visitor to the National Museum of History can gaze at a wardrobe, a sewing machine, a Gimiko clock and a pressure cooker and feel a sense of pride.
Familiar urban family gods from the Doi Moi period. — Photo courtesy of the museum
These old-fashioned items will satisfy viewers not only with their aesthetics but also with their history: they were the first Vietnamese products made during the doi moi (renewal) period.
This period is the focus of an exhibition entitled Doi Moi – Journey of Dreams being held at the Viet Nam National Museum of History.
All of the exhibition’s objects and documents tell the story of economic reforms initiated in 1986 at the sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam.
The exhibition celebrates 30 years (1986-2016) since the introduction of a socialist market-orientated economy and traces the shift’s impact across the whole country, from farms and factories to families.
“We will never forget the subsidy period [between 1975 and 1986] when all food, goods and services were purchased with coupons or food stamps issued by the government,” said exhibition visitor Le An Khanh, a Tay Ho District’s resident.
“Life was so difficult with poverty and unemployment. But when the Government abolished the state-subsidy mechanism and made some first economic reforms in the doi moi period, life gradually changed. We turned from a country in which people were starving to the world’s third largest exporter of rice.”
“The exhibition helps us recall that time,” he said.
In 1986, Viet Nam launched a political and economic renewal campaign that introduced reforms intended to facilitate the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. The doi moi campaign combined economic planning with free-market incentives. It also encouraged private business production, foreign investment and foreign-owned enterprises.
By the late 1990s, the success of the business and agricultural reforms ushered in under the campaign was evident. Many private businesses had been created, and poverty was nearly halved.
While doi moi opened the door to economic liberalisation in the country, it was also a watershed moment. It galvanised the nation, fostering the culture and integration, said Nguyen Van Cuong, the museum’s director.
“Doi moi captured this extraordinary spirit of innovation and change in Viet Nam that swept the country - north to south – presenting for the first time the voice of politicians, scientists, farmers, historians and citizens who had the vision and foresight to build a better future for us all.”
“Visitors will understand how the policies of 1986 marked a turning point in the history of Viet Nam and set the country on a path of economic recovery.”
A pressure cooker made in Viet Nam. — Photo courtesy of the museum
A poster celebrating the Doi Moi movement. — Photo courtesy of the museum
“The reforms rescued the country from a period of economic stagnation and food shortages. Faced with this crisis, the slogan “Doi moi Or Die” became emblematic of the urgent need to reform and change.”
The exhibition displays images of the leaders who made important decisions toward the survival and development of the country, such as Truong Chinh (1907-88), Nguyen Van Linh (1915–98)—the first Party general secretaries of doi moi period—and Vo Van Kiet (1922-2008).
Kiet was known as the leader who “broke the barriers”. He attempted the change regulations to help HCM City grow. He conducted many ambitious projects during the doi moi period, such as the construction of 500kV electricity transmission lines from the north to the south, the Ho Chi Minh Road and My Thuan Bridge over the Cuu Long (Mekong) River, which demonstrated his resolve and leadership.
Also on display are new products from Vietnamese brands for export. They highlight remarkable enterprisers like Le Xuan Pho, 74, who exported Bat Trang ceramics to the foreign market, and Nguyen Thi Hoe, owner of Kova Paint Group, who received Kovalevskaya Award for female scientists in the US.
The exhibition also reflects the national culture’s transformation toward a resurgence of religious and cultural activities. Religious pilgrimages, Mother Goddess ceremonies and Buddhism—as well as rituals and festivals—blossomed and now have become part of the national culture.
The exhibition runs until the end of the year at the museum, 25 Tong Dan Street, Ha Noi.