Efforts are being made by HCM City authorities to upgrade museums and enlarge them to satisfy both local and foreign researchers and visitors.

When the city's Fine Arts Museum opened its new exhibition room in April, it was the first time in more than 20 years of operation that the museum had been expanded by nearly 1,500sq.m.

The new exhibition room, which is adjacent to the museum building, displays nearly 300 artworks selected from a collection of 1,400 paintings, sketches and sculptures created by southern artists during 2006-10.

Founded in 1987, the Fine Arts Museum at 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street in District 1 has a huge collection of classical and contemporary artworks by renowned Vietnamese and foreign artists.

Art exhibitions are organised at the museum every month, attracting a great number of art lovers.

HCM City's War Remnants Museum recently opened a new room to display photos featuring the deadly effects of Agent Orange, a toxic chemical sprayed on southern Vietnam's jungles during the American War by the US military.

The museum is the only one of its kind in the country that is a member of the World Peace Museum network. It is listed in tourist guidebooks and is a regular destination for a large number of foreign visitors.

At visitors' requests, the museum each year has organised many interactive meetings between tourists and war victims who witnessed fighting in the southern provinces during the American War.

Exhibits at the Museum of History have recently been re-arranged to help visitors easily understand the entire history of Vietnam.

The museum last year opened two new rooms, one of which displays 400 artefacts of the ancient Oc Eo culture, one of Vietnam's earliest known civilisations.

"A great number of valuable art works and ancient relics are kept at the city's museums," said Nguyen Thi Hai who visited the Museum of History recently.

"However, museums need to change the arrangement of their exhibits to make them more attractive to visitors," Hai said, adding she and many visitors could not see the special characteristics of a century-old boat displayed at the museum. "The ancient boat is inside a glass chest but the place was too dark," she said.

Nguyen Thu Huyen, director of the History Museum said: "Museums lack curators and exhibit designers that have specific knowledge of artworks and ancient relics. Despite our efforts to upgrade facilities, we lack funds to buy modern technology."

According to Nguyen Van Huy, deputy director of the city's Culture Heritage Research Centre, museum officials need more training that could help them become as professional as their peers in other countries. /.