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Info-Forum Museum

Throughout history, humans have produced a variety of tools, ceremonial artifacts, buildings, songs, dances, and oral traditions, among many other things. However, since the 1980s, many such cultural resources are on the verge of disappearance confronted by the phenomenon of rapid globalization. Protecting the continuation and ensuring creation of ethnic cultures, or the shared cultural assets of humanity, is a challenge that must be tackled from a global perspective.
Since its inception 40 years ago, Minpaku has been devoted to research on ethnic cultures, and to collecting ethno-cultural materials and information from around the world. Today, it is considered vital to share such information, embodied in physical objects as well as intangible information and practices, as a “cultural resources of the world,” and to ensure that it is passed on to future generations.
The staff of Minpaku will be working collaboratively with other research institutes, universities, museums, and local societies, both in Japan and around the world, to conduct international collaborative research based on diverse cultural resources held by Minpaku and its partner organizations. The results of this research will be added to the basic information already organized for each cultural resource, and will be documented and recorded. Further, this enriched information will be disseminated via the Info Museum in the form of multilingual, multimedia-compatible, digital archives that will serve as a basis for forum discussions and examination.
There are two aspects to this project: One is the conduct international collaborative research projects on specific cultural resources and the turning of the results into a body of information with multilingual content. The other is to create the system for the Info Museum, and then ensure the operations.
As the project matures, global sharing and joint use of resources will become possible, based on an alliance of international partner organizations. The staff of Minpaku wishes to make this valuable resource available to researchers, culture-bearers and the general public, so that they all can put it to use for research, education, inter-generational transmission of culture, and the acquisition of information.

Project for Database Establishment (project period: max. 4 years)

【Projects in the Past】Project for Database Establishment

Project for Database Improvement (project period: max. 2 years)

【Projects in the Past】Project for Database Improvement

Info-Forum Museum Database

RECONNECTING Source Communities with Museum Collections
※ For the time being, IDs and passwords will only be assigned to authorized persons.
Watch and listen to Native American Hopi voices and storytelling as meaningful objects are reviewed from anthropology museums around the world. Enjoy an alternative to traditional anthropological writing in our multi-vocal museum catalog.
Cultural Heritage Sites Possessing Memories of Tsunamis: Database of Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments

In the coastal area of Japan, there remain temples, shrines, and stone monuments which evoke memories of disasters caused by earthquakes and tsunamis. These cultural heritage sites and monuments remind us of the disasters in the past. Taking inspiration from the experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have created a database for the people living in the Japanese islands to provide information on temples, shrines, stone monuments, and inscription plates using maps and data. The database also has a feature where new information can be added by its users. We would like to develop this database with the help of the residents of the coastal area and anyone interested in this project. As a databank of cultural heritage sites related to tsunamis, we hope this database will help people prepare for disasters in the future.

Jidai Gangu Collection Database

This is the database for the “Gangu oyobi kanren seso shiryo”, aka the “Jidai Gangu collection”, which was donated to the National Museum of Ethnology in March 2013. Designated by Osaka Prefecture as a tangible folk cultural property, the Jidai Gangu collection is a collection of toys and materials from the Edo, Meiji, Taisho, Showa and early Heisei eras. It was amassed by collector Toshikatsu Tada from 1975 onwards through visits to flea markets and old houses from Hokkaido to Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, and is one of the top toy collections in the country.

Database for Popular Culture Collections from the Middle East

This database features a selection of the National Museum of Ethnology’s Middle Eastern and West Asian artifacts. It is comprised of materials related to the nomadic society of the Arabian Peninsula collected by Motoko Katakura (Professor Emeritus at the National Museum of Ethnology), folk art from modern Iran collected by Jay Gluck, and a collection of items related to coffee amassed by Yukitoshi Shimegi.

The Cultural Resources of Indigenous Peoples in Northern North America

This database, compiled from basic information of cultural resources related to Indigenous Peoples in Alaska (USA), Canada, and Greenland, has as many as about 3,000 objects stored by the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan.

“Culture of Japan” Exhibition Database

This database catalogues the collections displayed at the “Culture of Japan” exhibition in the main hall of the National Museum of Ethnology.
It allows users to search the collections under two data categories; materials and exhibition.

The George Brown Collection

This database provides information on about 3,000 objects in the ethnographical collection of the Rev. Doctor George Brown, a pioneering Methodist missionary in the Pacific Islands from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. In 1985 and 1986, the National Museum of Ethnology purchased the George Brown Collection from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Material Culture in Taiwan and Neighboring Islands

This database has been published as the result of a project to survey and research artifacts related to Taiwan, and allows users to browse and search for items in Japanese, Chinese and English. Comprised mainly of everyday household items, clothing and crafts, the database features a free text search function and an index of indigenous ethnic group and artifact names. This is to encourage and enable use of the database by the general public and members of the source community, as well as scholars involved with research into indigenous ethnic groups. The interface has been designed to allow users to browse and search the database on smart phones and tablets. The aim of this is to support use on portable devices, which are expected to develop further in the future.

Songs and Dances in Tokunoshima

※ For the time being, IDs and passwords will only be assigned to authorized persons.
This database aims to compile video recordings of the folk performing arts handed down in Tokunoshima for use in transmission and research. The video recordings were made between 2010 and 2016 with the cooperation of residents and governments of Tokunoshima, Isen and Amagi. By clicking on an interactive map, users can view the folk performing arts from each community, and landscapes and stories about them that give insight into Tokunoshima’s environment and history.

Database of People / Objects Concerning HOYA Museum Attached to the Japanese Society of Ethnology

The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka possesses a collection of ethnographic objects, about 21,000 in number, received in 1975 from the Historical Archives of the Ministry of Education (now integrated to the National Institute of Japanese Literature). The accumulation of this collection started in the 1910s under the initiative of SHIBUSAWA Keizo, who served as Japan’s first Minister of Finance after World War II and as President of Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co. Ltd. (now KDDI). This collection has been expanded while being passed into the hands of various organizations, such as the Attic Museum, led by Shibusawa, and the Japanese Society of Ethnology (now the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology). Because the collection materialized into its final form at the museum attached to the Japanese Society of Ethnology in Hoya (now Nishi-Tokyo), Tokyo, we named it “Hoya Museum” Collection.

Info-Forum Museum Resources

People Who Gathered at the Hoya Museum:
Their Biographies and Contribution to the Collection
Edited by Taku Iida cover page
Collections Review on 24 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Tenri University Sankokan Museum
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 2
Edited by Atsunori Ito cover page
Collections Review on 186 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the National Museum of Ethnology
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 3
Edited by Atsunori Ito cover page
Collections Review on 446 Silverworks and Relating Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Museum of Northern Arizona
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 4
Atsunori Ito, Kathy Dougherty, and Kelley Hays-Gilpin cover page
Collections Review on 38 Silverworks Labeled “Hopi” in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 5
Edited by Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, and Chip Colwell cover page
Collections Reviews on 17 Silverworks Labeled “Hopi” in the History Colorado Center, a Silverwork in the Portland Art Museum, and a Silverwork Labeled “Hopi” in National Museums Scotland: Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 6, 7, 8 (National Museum of Ethnology Info-Forum Museum Resources 6) Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, Ramson Lomatewama, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, and Henrietta Lidchi cover page
Collections Review on 97 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Little World Museum of Man: Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 9 (National Museum of Ethnology Info-Forum Museum Resources 7) Edited by Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, Merle Namoki, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, and Takao Miyazato cover page