The National Museum of Ethnology, Japan (Minpaku) is the only research institute of cultural anthropology and ethnology in the world,that is equipped with one of the world’s largest museum facilities as well as post-graduate educational facilities. This year, we are celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Human civilization today is facing the greatest turning point in several centuries. Up until recently, the group that was regarded as central watched and ruled in a unilateral manner the group regarded as peripheral. The dynamics of this power relationship seem to be changing now. These days, we witness that contacts, interactions and amalgamation, including the creative and the destructive, are occurring worldwide in a bilateral manner between those two entities, one used to be regarded as central and the other peripheral. I believe that the wisdom of cultural anthropology is needed now more than ever to establish a world where, while respecting diverse cultures, we will be able to live a peaceful life by bridging the gap between different languages and cultures.
Acknowledging those changes in global trends, Minpaku carried out 10 years of overall renovation of its permanent facilities to exhibit cultures of various regions of the world in the Main Exhibition Building.
The renovation was completed in March 2017. In addition, we also carried out overall renovation of our organizational structure. We are going to start promoting our research activities this April with the new structure that will meet the needs of the times. Our new sections are comprised of the Department of Human Basic Theories, the Department of Cross-disciplinary Field Science, the Department of Human Civilization Journals, the Department of Global Phenomena, and the Research and Development Center for Scientific Resources. Every section will cooperate with universities and research institutes in Japan and abroad. Its collaboration will extend to those who are in the source community, that is, the community of those who will become the direct subjects of research or from whom scientific materials will be collected.
Minpaku will thus further the development and promotion of research activities based upon cooperation through global networks.
With the comprehensive renewal of the exhibitions in the Main Exhibition Building now completed, the museum is moving forward to the next step, which is to develop a system for deployment next year. The system is designed to make the research data that have been and which are being accumulated by Minpaku freely accessible through the exhibition to users and researchers depending on their area of interest for their further studies. It works in conjunction with a next-generation electronic guide and videotheque as well as the Minpaku Virtual Museum on the website.
In addition, Minpaku is promoting the “Info-Forum Museum” project. The project aims to share its collection of audio-visual materials such as artifacts, photos and videos, with not only researchers and users at home and abroad, but also local communities as original producers (for photos, with local communities as subjects), and put newly gained insights into the database for subsequent sharing, leading ultimately to new joint research, joint exhibition, and community activities.
All these activities are designed to enrich and promote intellectual exchange among diverse users to support their discovery and collaboration, providing a forum for creativity in research, education, or museum operation, which have always been the key pursuits of Minpaku.
April 1, 2018
Director-General of National Museum of Ethnology, Japan
The National Museum of Ethnology, known as Minpaku, was founded in 1974 and opened to the public in November 1977. Its goals are to conduct cultural anthropological and ethnological research and to increase awareness and understanding of societies and cultures around the world based on that research.