The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is home to a rotating display of informative and engaging exhibitions, offering a rare and fascinating insight into the diversity and richness of Laos’ ethnic cultures. Our exhibits feature objects from our museum collection, such as traditional handmade clothing and textiles, jewellery, handicraft and household tools, reconstructions of domestic scenes, as well as ritual and religious artefacts. A distinctive characteristic of TAEC’s exhibits are its linkages to local ethnic communities – displays feature quotes, photos and videos from our living resource persons.

Permanent Exhibitions

Currently on display at TAEC are permanent exhibits exploring the unique cultural aspects of four of Laos’ most well known ethnic minority groups: Akha, Hmong, Kmhmu and Tai Dam.

  • Akha: The Diversity of An Ethnic Group demonstrates the subtle differences between subgroups of the Akha people, and features a stunning headdress made from over 300 pieces of Indochinese era silver.
  • Hmong: New Years Celebrations offers an insight into the colourful courtship traditions of Hmong New Year.
  • Tai Lue: Cotton Clouds to Cloth explains the process and shows tools the Tai Lue use to turn raw cotton into thread for weaving
  • Kmhmu: Baskets and Back Strap Looms explores the versatility and beauty of bamboo basketry in a Kmhmu home.

Special Exhibitions

Carving a Community: The Katu People highlights the distinct cultural traits and crafts of the Katu residing in southern Laos and the central highlands of Vietnam. Intricate weavings and basketry and bold woodcarving created by the Katu people are highlights of the exhibit. Of special interest is the carved decoration of the Katu communal meetinghouse. Traditionally, the meetinghouse was the focal point of the village, where members of the community gather to carry out important rites, including buffalo sacrifice. Videos of this annual ritual and daily activities allow visitors to witness the folkways of the Katu. This exhibit opened on 20 September 2013 and will end on 15 September 2014.

The exhibition catalogue, Carving a Community: The Katu People, is available at the TAEC Museum Shop. Edited by Dr. Linda S. McIntosh, this concise book has an overview of important aspects of the current status of Katu culture and society.

Special exhibitions are included in the general admission ticket to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.

Exhibition information is displayed in Lao and English, and translations are available free of charge from the ticket desk, in French, German and Japanese.

Visit the Visitor Information page for details on location, opening hours and services. Guided tours of the exhibitions are available, as well as in-depth seminars.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Opening October 2014

Caregivers to Culture Keepers: Stories from Women in a Changing Laos
Eight Community Researchers from the Stitching Our Stories (SOS) project have taken the lead in investigating and documenting healing, handicrafts, and childrearing within their communities. SOS trains young women and girls in the art of storytelling and gives them a range of tools to tell their stories from their own perspectives. Over two years, young women from the Hmong and Tai Lue communities in Luang Prabang have documented their communities and built a collection of photographs, video clips, and interviews about women in Laos today.

From this amazing collection, the exhibition, Caregivers to Culture Keepers: Stories from Women in a Changing Laos, will explore women's lives from the perspective of young ethnic minority women. The exhibition will feature SOS photographs, seven short documentary videos, and objects including batik-making tools, divination horns, and traditional baby carriers.

Beginning in 2012, TAEC and PhotoForward have worked together to reach young women in ethnic communities. The first year, Hmong youth learned about digital media and storytelling. In the second year participation expanded to include Tai Lue women and girls. The SOS project provides the tools and support for these young women to investigate and reflect on their culture. Serving as community researchers for this exhibition, these women actively foster the revitalization of ethnic traditions and identity.

We’re excited to continue our relationship with these women and hope that having their work displayed so prominently within our museum will empower young women to take pride in their roles and importance in the community, embolden Lao youth to explore their own cultural traditions, and encourage Lao to honor their cultural heritage.

Past Exhibitions

From Courtship to Kinship: Wedding Celebrations of Laos’ Ethnic Groups provides a rare insight into the distinct wedding traditions of the Lao people and several of the country’s ethnic minorities such as the Hmong, Tai Phuan and Mien. It features unusual artefacts, such as a ‘wedding crown’ of the Kim Di Mun made of pure silver and human hair, stunning documentary photography of rituals and ceremonies, and explanations of the lore and symbolism of wedding customs in Laos. This exhibition opened on 15 September 2011 and closed on 31 August 2012. For more information on this exhibition, please contact us.

Splendour and Sacrifice: Taoism of Northern Laos, a special exhibition at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre from September 2009 - August 2011, offered visitors a glimpse into the religious life of the Mien and Mun Yao people.

The culmination of two years’ research, the exhibition explored the beliefs, rituals and precious religious artefacts of the Yao. Items on display included silk-embroidered priest’s robes, ceremonial masks and prayer books, a documentary video, and a recreation of an ordination ritual. The exhibition and research were funded by the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, through the US Embassy to Lao PDR. For more information on this exhibition, please contact us.

Gallery 1 of the TAEC permanent exhibition Kmhmu exhibition on basketry and backstrap looms Tai Lao and Yao Mun wedding costumes "From Courtship to Kinship" special exhibition "Exhibition Catalogue for Carving A Community: The Katu People Lao women harvesting rice by SOS participant Hmong woman doing embroidery by SOS participant Young woman weaving in her village by SOS participant Visit website of partner PhotoForward