The Museum of Trade Ceramics is one of several ancient houses that can be visited in Hoi An’s Old Town. The majority of the city’s yellow-painted houses date back to the French colonial era, whereas the ancient houses – often made from timber – reflect the area’s history as a major trading port. As well as housing over 400 pieces and fragments of pottery, the building is a lovely antique in itself.
History of the Museum
The Museum of Trade Ceramics opened in 1994, and its collections reflect Hoi An’s former position on the Silk Road. The house itself was constructed in 1858 and refurbished in the 1920s. Situated between Japan and China, Hoi An became a port and shipment point for goods going not only north and south, but to Thailand, India, the Philippines and even Europe.
Ceramics were among the first goods traded, and a virtual currency, dating back as far as the 8th century. The museum contains over 400 artifacts, mostly found on archeological sites in Vietnam. These pieces not only reflect the region’s history as a major trading station, but they show the evolution of pottery from around the world.
The house the museum resides in is also an important part of history. Mainly constructed from wood, it’s one of several ancient houses in Hoi An’s Old Town, and its architecture is of a traditional Kyoto style. Two main rooms are separated by a courtyard, with a separate kitchen and washroom. There’s a huge Japanese influence on the design and the house was originally used to store and transport goods. It’s likely the house was originally built and lived in by a Japanese merchant and his family.
Visiting the Museum
The museum houses fragments dating from the 7th to the 18th century. Many pieces were found on archeological digs in Vietnam, but some come from further afield. Many fragments were taken from the wreck of a trading vessel found off the coast of Vietnam in the early 1700s. You can also see a scale model of a traditional merchant ship.
The museum does not take long to explore, and the artifacts are mainly fragments, but it’s a valuable introduction to the region’s history as a trading port, as well as the chance to look around a traditional Hoi An house. There are plenty of signs in English, and drawings of completed pottery, giving you all the background you need to enjoy the displays. It can get busy around mid-morning, so for best results, pop down first thing, just before your morning coffee.
How to Get There
The Museum of Trade Ceramics is located on 80 Tran Phu Street in Hoi An’s Old Town. You can visit the museum with an Old Town Ticket, which entitles you to visit 5 sites, including the town’s various museums and pagodas. Remember that Hoi An is a walking and cycling town between the hours of 9am – 11am, and 3pm – 9.30pm, so if traveling from outside the Old Town it’s advisable to take a cab or hop on the Hoi An’s excellent electric Shuttlebus.
Find our guide to Hoi An’s Best Museums here.