On the Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the National Museum of Ethnology
In this year, 2007, we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of Ethnology to the public. The research museum, which had been established as a center for cultural-anthropological and ethnological studies some three years earlier, has been known as MINPAKU (an abbreviation based on its Japanese name) since. From its earliest days, it has continuously presented to the public cultural materials and knowledge of people from all over the world.
Over the years as Minpaku has grown, the world has undergone drastic changes. Globalization is occurring at an ever-increasing rate, creating a sense that time is fleeting and space is shrinking. Changes are reaching every corner of the world much faster than it could have ever been imagined, reaching even the most isolated communities. As the world shrinks, contact among different societies becomes more intense, the mutual interaction resulting in a degree of diversity within each community not heretofore seen. It is difficult today not to notice some form of outside cultural influence even in each individual's life. This interaction is creating a vibrant cultural kaleidoscope in which aspects of different cultures and societies are brought together in unique ways, each piece integrating with the old, synthesizing with the new, but still maintaining its own color.
One of the main tasks that Minpaku faces now is to re-fashion ourselves to enable us to better accommodate the situation we see in the world today, both as an academic institute and as a museum. We can no longer simply view cultures as though they are stable and static. Instead, we pursue cutting-edge research to meet the needs of a world in the midst of dynamic change, and develop new methodologies to facilitate research on such topics.
New approaches are introduced in the Museum operation as well. Departing from the traditional method which exhibited cultures as understood by outside researchers, we now actively seek the advice and suggestions of people from the communities represented in our exhibitions. Projects with non-Minpaku staff members for exhibition planning are encouraged, and the positive participation in Museum activities of interested members of the general public is appreciated.
For the last three decades, Minpaku has taken one step after another, with people, to understand people. This is a journey which will continue in the decades to come. People from different societies will continue to cross boundaries, interact with one another, influence each other, and develop new forms of society. To be able to visualize a future world where people with different backgrounds can live together comfortably and peacefully, we must inevitably develop broader perspectives in our research on culture and society, and integrate the knowledge we acquire for the better understanding of human nature.
This is not a journey where one simply follows a well-paved road. It is instead a new and untrodden path, an accumulation of small but well thought out steps, a continuation of inconspicuous effort that gradually takes us further and further along the course that lies ahead. There is no end in the search for such wisdom. Minpaku's mission will continue to be the pursuit of this journey, where we take steps hand-in-hand with the society we serve, for a better comprehension and appreciation of the value of each and every culture.
On the occasion of our 30th anniversary, in the year of Minpaku's Renaissance, we would like to thank all who have generously supported us in the past, and to ask you to continue this journey with us. Your unfailing support will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
January 18, 2007
National Museum of Ethnology, Japan