An Art Lover’s Guide to Saigon

As one of Vietnam’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities, it’s easy to understand why Saigon has a flourishing art scene. Over the past few years, Saigon has evolved from a commercial art hub to a more eclectic community of local and International artists, creating platforms that help to promote Vietnamese contemporary arts.

If you are an art lover and wondering what is there for you to discover in Saigon, you will definitely not be disappointed. The city is home to several art galleries and museums and there are frequent events and exhibits organized by the city’s artistic community. Below is a list of some of the best places to catch a glimpse of the city’s incredible art masterpieces.

1. Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum

Most art lovers in Saigon will start off their tour with a visit to the Fine Arts Museum, a beautiful colonial-era building featuring an interesting mix of Chinese and French architectural details. Originally built as a mansion for a rich Chinese family in the 1920s, the building is now one of the top-rated art museums in the city. This is the perfect place to visit if you want to catch a glimpse of the local art scene and find out what the city’s best artists are creating.

The museum’s collections are spread across three floors and showcase both historic painting and contemporary masterpieces. There are also textiles, sculptures, and some works that focus on propaganda inspired by the infamous Vietnam War.

2. Lotus Gallery

Located in the District 1 area of Saigon, the Lotus Gallery is a private art gallery established in 1991. The gallery houses a large collection of high-quality contemporary Vietnamese art pieces. Making use of its long and narrow interiors, the artworks are arranged on sliding panels that would reveal several paintings underneath.

The owners of Lotus Gallery are informative and friendly and would happily introduce each collection to visitors. They will provide interesting details of each piece and offer a brief insight into the history of several local artists who hail from the various parts of the country.  Lotus Gallery also holds annual exhibits all over Southeast Asia and Europe.

3. The Factory Contemporary Arts Center

Located just outside of District 2, the Factory Contemporary Arts Center is the first ever purpose-built space for contemporary arts in the country. The 500-square meter gallery regularly hosts exhibits and other artistic events that bring together some of the country’s best artists. This place used to be a warehouse, as evident by the shipping container right by its entrance.

If you’re looking to attend curated exhibitions, art workshops, conferences, and film screenings during your visit to Saigon, this is the best place to visit. The center aims to showcase the country’s emerging artists and local experimental arts. Aside from being an art gallery, the site is also home to a restaurant and bar that serve delicious cocktails made from locally sourced ingredients.

4. Duc Minh Gallery

Duc Minh Gallery is known for its massive private art collections and is truly one of the best art galleries in Vietnam. The gallery features the collections of Duc Minh, who is one of the country’s most prominent art collectors. He is also known to save some art pieces from possible destruction during the Vietnam War.

Duc Minh’s son, Bui Quoc Chi, has inherited his love for arts and now runs the gallery. He continued the family’s legacy by preserving a number of highly prized art pieces dating back to the 1920s. The gallery’s current collection has expanded to include more contemporary works. There are also occasional guided tours led by Bui Quoc Chi himself. However, the tickets tend to get sold out very fast so if you find a tour date from their website, make sure to grab it immediately.

5. Craig Thomas Gallery

Established by American lawyer turned art collector, the Craig Thomas Gallery is one of Saigon’s best contemporary art galleries. The place offers a wide range of contemporary artworks and is known as one of the city’s oldest commercial art galleries. Opened in 2009, the gallery focuses on showcasing the works of emerging Vietnamese artists along with some well-known names.

Each year, a number of art exhibits are being held at the Craig Thomas Gallery, which serves as a platform for local artists to showcase their work to a wider audience. Most of the paintings and art pieces in the gallery have important and interesting messages behind them.  Located in Saigon’s District 1, the gallery opens daily from 12 PM to 6P M.

6. Apricot Gallery

Another art gallery that you might come across in District 1 is the Apricot Gallery. It houses an impressive collection by both local and International artists. The gallery originates in Hanoi and is set in a five-story building. Its walls feature large canvas paintings and several other attractive masterpieces. This is a great place to visit if you want to catch a glimpse of the works of Vietnam’s up and coming local artists.

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