1. The establishment and history of the development of the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam
After over 900 years of existence and development, the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam is one of the most important and special vestiges of both Hanoi capital and the country. This vestige was firstly classified as a Historical and Cultural Vestige by the government on 23 April 1962. Due to its objective condition and war the vestige was unfavorably downgraded, some items of remaining projects were damaged and some completely collapsed, tiles of the roofs were out of order, timber structures were eaten by termites, the site was often flooded for a whole week after heavy rain. The vestige was only opened when there were visitors.
The renovation period was initiated during the 4th Communist party congress (1986) in all aspects, including culture. To carry out the renovation guidelines of the Vietnamese communist party and to bring the national cultural heritage into play, on 15th March 1988, the Hanoi City Committee of the Communist Party announced an official statement No 07/TB-TU which related to guidelines for the establishment of a Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam as an avenue where scientists could meet and exchange their cultural and scientific experiences and to positively contribute to the course of the building of the capital and that of the country.
Based on an announcement by the Hanoi City Committee of the Communist Party, on 25th April 1988, the Hanoi People’s Committee made a decision No 1776/QĐ/UB on the guidelines of the establishment of a Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam. According to this decision, the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam has its office at the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, and is a public service unit belonging to the Hanoi Department of Culture and Information (currently Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports). The Center assumes the duties of:
- Managing the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam according to the ordinances of the preservation and utilization of the historical and cultural vestiges of the State
- Organizing scientific, cultural and artistic activities for the cause of the building and development of Hanoi capital
- Provision of tourist services
- Making plans to preserve and restore the vestige
- Providing necessary mediums to bring the benefits of the vestige into play and to meet with the requirement of scientific, cultural and artistic activities
When the Center was first founded in 1988 it only had a staff of 8 persons. The Director of the Hanoi Department for Culture and Information also held the position of Director of the Center. To meet with working requirements, the Center gradually and accordingly completed its human resources. The structure was progressively completed with 3 divisions of specialties such as the Security Guards’ Division, Sanitary Team and the Tour guides’ Division. In particular, the Tour guides’ Division consists of staffs who are professional, knowledgeable and have a good command of foreign languages; they meet the requirements of foreign tourists’. In 2000, eleven cadres and workers were transferred from Hanoi Green trees – Park Co.,LTD to the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, which made a contribution to increasing the professional maintenance of green trees and the environment at the vestige.
In 2005, to meet with the development of the Center for the new period, the Hanoi Department of Culture and Information made a decision No 125/QĐ-VHTT dated 16th June 2005 on the establishment of functional departments at the Center. As a result, the organizational structure of the Center was completed, which included 3functional Departments: The Department for Administration and Finance, the Department for the Maintenance of Green trees and Environment and the Department for Professional Activities and Tour Guides. In 2009, after the merging of the administrative border of Hanoi City with Ha Tay province, the Hanoi People’s Committee made a decision No 589/QĐ-UBND dated 4th February 2009 which related to the foundation of the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, which belonged to the Hanoi Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism. Based on the above decision and Decision No 531/QĐ-VHTT &DL dated 30th June 2009 and signed by the Director of the Hanoi Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, on more clear and detailed specifications of the duties and functions of the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam. Therefore, the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam became a public service unit with revenues and comprised the duties of management of the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, the organization of cultural and scientific activities and the provision of tourist services and assumed 14 detailed duties for the activities of the restoration of the vestige and the bringing of its value into play according to the requirements of the cultural and social development of Hanoi capital. The organizational structure of the Center included the Director, Vice Directors, 4 Functional Departments such as the Department for general Administration, the Department for Specialized Activities and Tour Guides, the Department for the Maintenance of Green Trees and Environment and the Department for Historical and Cultural Research and Collection.
However, from December 2011, the Center strengthened its organizational structure, officially established the “Department for Historical and Cultural Research and Collection”, which was separate from the Department for Specialized Activities and Tour Guides. The mechanism of the Center is now complete and consists of a Directors Board and 4 Functional Departments and is able to meet with the activities for the new period.
Firstly, the Center only had 8 staff when it was founded, presently the Center has experienced and professional staff which includes 1 Ph.D., 6 M.A., 33 Bachelors, plus many skilled technicians and workers.
2. Significant achievements
a. Restoring, preserving and bringing the value of the vestige into play
The principal and most important task of the Center is the preservation and restoration of the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam. The Center has restored and maintained many projects:
- The items restored and maintained in sections of Van Mieu include the sewage and lighting systems, items of the Great Sanctuary, Great House of Ceremony, and Pavilion of the Khue Constellation of Literature which were red lacquered and trimmed with gold, pavilion housing the stelae were constructed; the Well of Heavenly Clarity and four ponds in the vestige were maintained and dredged.
- The projects restored in the area of Quoc Tu Giam: the construction of the Thai Hoc courtyard on the former ground of Quoc Tu Giam began in 1999 and was completed in 2000 for the celebration of the 990th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi. The Thai Hoc courtyard is used to organize cultural and historical activities and for the displaying of exhibits on “the history of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and that of Vietnamese Confucian study and examination systems” as well as for honoring national and cultural scholars who have made great contributions to the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and for Vietnamese education such as King Ly Thanh Tong, King Ly Nhan Tong, King Le Thanh Tong and Professor Chu Van An.
- The restoration in the areas of the Van Lake and Giam Garden include the clearing away of contaminated land, the Van Lake was dredged and embanked; Bat Giac house was constructed; walk ways were constructed, green grass was created, all of these projects made sections of the Van Lake and Giam Garden places of relaxation, entertainment and for visitors to study after their trip to the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam.
The restoration and maintenance of the vestige was carefully conducted; the designs and the execution of the projects were well operated based on thorough research of the vestige in accordance with the regulations of the restoration and maintenance of the vestige in order to preserve the ancient architectural styles keeping in harmony with the natural scenery and the original factors of the vestige.
Presently, the restoration and maintenance of the vestige are carried out to preserve the vestige in every way, especially now the vestige has become a place of such attraction for Hanoi capital; every day the Center welcomes thousands of tourists to study and visit the vestige.
Apart from the restoration and maintenance of the vestige, the Center initially specified and orientation to bring the vestige’s value into play, make the vestige a place to develop the tradition of love of study, the respect of teachers and the glorification of national cultural scholars. Cultural and scientific activities are held as Scientific seminars, the celebration of national scholars, topic speeches, offering ceremonies to encourage study, scholarship presentation ceremonies, awards giving ceremonies for the most outstanding students from various universities, ceremonies for awarding title certificates for professor and associate professor to brilliant teachers or offering ceremonies to honor Confucius, Confucian scholars and for bringing into play the tradition of love of study. These activities are organized more often and have become frequent activities held at the vestige. Especially, the vestige has been selected as the place for Vietnam Poetry Day, Reading Books Day and for many exhibitions, including arts exhibitions which are often organized at the vestige. Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam has become an important address for the organization of cultural and scientific activities.
The activities of the propagating of the vestige and that of providing tourist services are the most significant tasks to bring the value of the site into play.
Apart from the exhibition on the “History of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and Vietnamese education” which is set to be exhibited at the Thai Hoc courtyard, over the past few years the Center organized 10 exhibitions on given topics at the vestige and in different localities such as “Some images about the system of Van Mieu (Confucius temple) in Vietnam”, “Tradition of Vietnamese examination and education”, “Some images of Van tu Van chi (Confucian temples) in Thang Long – Hanoi and in the surrounding areas”, “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam in Thang Long and Van Mieu (Confucius temple) in Tran Bien”… The Center received over one million visitors, gave guided tours to thousands of delegations, including high ranking delegations of the Communist Party and the State such as delegations including the Presidents of the United States of America, Russia and France, those of the Prime Ministers of Germany, the United Kingdom and that of the President of the People’s Republic of China…The Center also held many contests to study the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam for school children both in Hanoi and in surrounding areas and printed hundreds of brochures in Vietnamese, English and French to intensify the advertisement and promotion with regard to the vestige for visitors and those who want to study the cultural and historical site.
The task of the preservation and maintenance of the environment and natural scenery of the vestige is always given great attention. Plots of grass are well maintained and mowed on time and look green; bonsai trees and flowers at the vestige are enriched with colors and types; bonsai trees and pot plants are well looked after, the figures of the trees are properly trimmed. All sections of the vestige are always green, clean, beautiful and ready to serve visitors.
b. Activities of scientific researches
Apart from organizing scientific activities, the Center also participated in the collection of documents, exhibits and scientific research related to the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam in particular and the system of Confucian relics and that of Vietnamese education and examination in general. Many scientific research topics were previously carried out and attracted many researchers who have a good command of history, culture and architecture…such as “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and the Vietnamese study and examination system”, “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, the center of Vietnamese culture and Confucian education”, “Fundamentals and solutions of researching and managing Vietnamese Confucian vestiges”, “Orientations of glorifying national cultural scholars in the adjacent modern era at Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam”. Scientific research and the selection of documents are thoroughly specialized and more systematically conducted on a larger scale.
All the content of the documents which concern the themes “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, Doctors of Confucian doctrine, Confucian education and examination, Confucian vestiges”… covered in old bibliographies, collections of the State’ history written by the Imperial Court or documents belonging to individuals, which were collected or have been being collected were created as theme directories. The Center carried out field researches on nearly 200 Confucian relics in different localities from all over the country such as Hanoi, Hai Duong, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Ninh Binh, Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Vinh Long, Dong Nai…The Center was able to collect a very large number of documents including hundreds of rubbed copies of stelae, over 500 photos of doctoral laureates’ nominations, 5000 pictures of Confucian relics, thousands of pages of Han-Nom documents (including works and poetry written by doctoral laureates). For the past three years (2013-2015), the Center successfully held 10 seminars, scientific conferences, it is noted among them that there were 3 scientific conferences with the given topic “Units manage Confucian relics in Vietnam” to exchange information and the experience of conservation of Confucian vestiges and to bring their values into play. Through the scientific conferences the relationships of the units managing Confucian relics across the country and specially those units managing Confucian temples in the provinces Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Hue, Dong Nai…became closer and shared their experiences of specialties to one another in a timely manner.
Moreover, the Center compiled, edited and organized the publishing of 12 scientific projects and summary records of conferences such as “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, a Symbol of Vietnamese Culture and Education”, “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and 82 Doctoral Laureates’ stelae” in Vietnamese and in English, “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and the system of Van tu Van chi (Confucian Temples) in Vietnam”, “Scientific Conference of the units managing Confucian vestiges in Vietnam”, “Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and Vietnamese Confucian examination system”, “Te Tuu (Director) of Quoc Tu Giam Vu Mien”, “Te Tuu (Director) of Quoc Tu Giam Khieu Nang Tinh”, “Van Khac Han Nom (Texts engraved in Han Nom scripts) in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam”, “The system of training and selecting civil mandarins during the Le So dynasty”…
Over nearly 30 years of operation, the Center has had the momentous honor of receiving many noble awards such as the “Third rank Labor Medal” given by the President of the Socialist republic of Vietnam, 6 “Diplomas of Merit” due to the outstanding implementation of assigned tasks” and 3 “Emulation flags” in the emulation movements of the city by the Hanoi people’s Committee. In 2010, the Center was also awarded a “Diploma of Merit” due to participation in activities for the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi by the Hanoi People’s Committee. Over many years, the Center has received a “Certificate of Merit as an outstanding labor collective” from the cultural branch…
Department of Cultural and Scientific Research and Collection t is well worth being very proud of the Center when the result of the activities of the restoration and the bringing of the value of the vestige were recorded, in 2011 the vestige Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam was rated as a Special National Vestige by the government. In March 2010, on the occasion of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Hanoi, 82 stone stelae at Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam were classified as a Documentary Heritage of the World and were inscribed in the list of Memory of the World Regional Register for Asia and Pacific by UNESCO and a Documentary Heritage of the World and inscribed in the list of Memory of the World International Register in 2011 and were ranked as State treasurers in 2015.