The first structure in what is now the Đà Nẵng Museum of Cham Sculpture was built in 1915. However, many of the Cham sculptures here were actually collected over the 20 years prior to the construction of this first building. Coming from sites around Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam Province, they were brought to this site and displayed in what was then known as “The Garden of Tourane”. The collection of Cham sculpture was begun by French archaeologists and experts from L’École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO). Some artifacts were sent to museums in Paris and others to museums in Hà Nội and Sài Gòn (now Hồ Chí Minh City). However, the most typical and precious objects were left here in what was then known as Tourane (now Đà Nẵng).
The establishment of a museum of Cham sculpture in Đà Nẵng was first proposed in 1902 by the Department of Archaeology of the EFEO. Henri Parmentier, a prominent expert of EFEO, was the greatest proponent for the construction of this museum. The first building was designed by two French architects, M. Deleval and M. Auclair, who were inspired by Henri Parmentier to use traditional Cham elements in the design. Over the years, the Museum has been extended twice, but the unique combination of Cham and French colonial architecture has been preserved.
The first extension was in the mid1930s, with two new galleries providing display space for the objects added to the collection of the Museum in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1000 square meters of floor space was arranged to display the artifacts of Mỹ Sơn, Trà Kiệu, Đồng Dương, Tháp Mẫm, Quảng Trị, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định and Kon Tum. In 2002, the Museum was again extended, with a two-story building providing an extra 1000 square meters for the display of objects collected after 1975.
An overall plan for the renovation of the museum was initiated in 2005. With the assistance of the French experts of the FSP project, the renovated galleries of Mỹ Sơn and Đồng Dương were inaugurated in 2009. In 2016, a project sponsored by the City of Đà Nẵng is being carried out to maintain the buildings of the museum and to re-arrange all the galleries into a cohesive itinerary, including the main galleries for the display of Cham sculpture; a supplementary area for the display of Cham inscriptions and terra cottas; and a supplementary area for the display of contemporary festivals and the music and crafts of the Cham people today. A space for performance and education programs has been set on the second floor, and facilities in the garden for visitors’ services have been refurbished.