The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

An Anthropological Study of Tactile Culture: Exploring New Fields of "Manual Learning" based on Museums

Joint Research Coordinator HIROSE Koujirou

Reserch Theme List


tactile culture, manual learning, universal museum


This project continues the “Practical research to create a museum that everyone can enjoy—an experiment in designing exhibits for the visually impaired” joint research project conducted 2009-2011. Its objective is to further explore tactile culture (learning facts through physical contact that only touch provides) from an anthropological perspective. According to Sawatte tanoshimu hakubutsukan—unibaasaru myuujiamu (The Touch-and-Enjoy Museum—The Possibility of a Universal Museum, Hirose, published in May 2012 by Seikyusha), the volume in which the results of the previous research were published, it should be possible to produce an introductory casebook dedicated to the proposition that the universal museum will be one that everyone can enjoy. This project’s aim will be to produce this book with an eye to providing concrete examples to frame debate about the universal museum and, more broadly, its contributions to building a cooperative, multicultural society in the 21st century. Until now anthropological research on touch has been rare compared to anthropological research on vision (imagery) and hearing (sound). This research will address this lack by focusing on tactile culture, starting with the “manual learning” employed in designing museum exhibits.