This is where to find “the largest collection of Chăm sculpture in the world,” writes Viet Nam News. It’s the museum that “preserves the art and history of the Kingdom of Champa that once flourished in now central Vietnam.” The museum is “small but well-organised, with sandstone sculptures that provide a fascinating look into the history of Central Vietnam,” writes Hanoi For 91 Days. The Champa Kingdom “lasted for about a thousand years, from 500 AD until their eventual capitulation to the northern Dai Viet in 1500 … they were a sea-faring people, related culturally to India, and shared that country’s Hindu faith.” Their artistic legacy is impressive, despite the fact that most of it has been lost to the ravages of time and war. The culture’s most important surviving sculptures have been collected in Danang.
It’s probably the world’s only structure that “marries French colonial architecture with elements of Cham design,” notes Hanoi For 91 Days. “Hundreds of exhibits fill the museum’s ten rooms, organised by time period and style, each named for the area in which its sculptures were found,” and the artistry on display is “exquisite … the comical expressions of the mythological creatures, the life-like curves of the dancers, the detail on the robes of Vishnu, and the scenes depicted story-like on a pedestal make clear that the Cham were highly-skilled artists.” The idea of building a museum to house Champa sculptures was initiated by Frenchman Charles Lemire in 1892, when he “took 50 sculptures to the Tourane Garden, the present site of the museum,” explains Viet Nam News.