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

Seminars, Symposia, and Academic Conferences

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Fifth International Workshop, “Collaboration with Source Communities in the Exhibition of Collections and Media in Ethnological Museums”

  • Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:00 - 18:00
  • Venue:Conference Room 4, National Museum of Ethnology
  • Language:Russian/Japanese,English/Japanese (Simultaneous Translation)
  • Inquiries: 10-1 Senri Expo Park, Suita, Osaka 565-8511, Japan
    Tel: +81-(0)6-6876-2151
    e-mail: ssasaki [at]
    *Please replace 'at' with @ and send.


It is necessary to construct an intimate relationship and system for collaboration with the people that provided us their own materials and data for exhibition and research in order to realize the fundamental concepts of the National Museum of Ethnology, i.e., “a museum as a forum” and “an exhibition of the people living in the same age as us.” A society of such people is called “a source community.” However, there are many different kinds of such communities, and the museum has to construct various collaboration systems to accommodate these differences. The National Museum of Ethnology has long experience in establishing intimate relations with source communities. For example, the museum asked the Ainu community in Nibutani village in Hokkaido to support the making of an exhibition of Ainu culture in the 1970s. Since the beginning of the 2000s, Atsunori Ito, a member of the research staff of the museum, has conducted research on the museum’s materials in collaboration with the Hopi society in the United States. However, the museum became aware of the importance of such collaboration only in recent years and is still seeking the way forward. Therefore, comparisons with examples and the experience of other museums will enable us to make a more accurate policy and a theoretical basis for the collaboration.
A gigantic museum such as the National Museum of Ethnology, which has a large financial basis, many exhibition halls, large storage spaces, and a huge volume of items and materials from all over the world, has to have different kinds of collaboration systems and relationships with source communities. Despite the urgent need to construct systems and relationships, the problem is not still drawing much attention in Japan and there are only a few cases to examine. Therefore, in this workshop, we will examine museums in the United States, Russia, and Korea, which have experience in constructing intimate relationships with source communities to make exhibitions of indigenous cultures or local culture and that have a similar scale in their building, funding, and number of collections to those of ours. And comparing these cases with our museum, we will reconsider the relation between museums and source communities. This workshop aims to contribute to the improvement of exhibitions in the main halls, the planning of special exhibitions, and the enrichment and publication of collection data in our museum. Moreover, it aims to promote the idea of a new national museum for Ainu culture (its tentative name is the “National Museum of Ainu Culture” and it will be opened in 2020). It will be possible to evaluate the quality of Japanese anthropology and museuology from this project.


Time Contents
10:00 - 10:20 Opening remarks
10:20 - 10:40 Purpose of the Workshop(Shiro Sasaki, National Museum of Ethnology)
10:40 - 11:30 A Vietnam journey: How a museum in New York and a museum in Hanoi worked together to make an exhibit(Laurel Kendall, American Museum of Natural History)
11:30 - 12:10 Outcomes and future challenges of the fishing village museum exhibition by the National Folk Museum of Korea: In the Perspective of a Source Community Participation and Cooperation(Yang Ki, National Folk Museum of Korea)
12:10 - 13:00 Lunch break
13:00 - 13:40 Exhibition activity of the Russian Museum of Ethnography(Elena Gerasimenko, Russian Museum of Ethnography)
13:40 - 14:20 Traveling exhibition: New experience of the Russian Museum of Ethnography(Viktoriia Pervak, Russian Museum of Ethnography)
14:20 - 15:00 The role of a museum in preserving and promotion of culture of the peoples of Siberia(Irina Karapetova, Russian Museum of Ethnography)
15:00 - 15:20 Coffee break
15:20 - 16:00 Museum and local people: ethnology, archeology and manufacture,(Soichiro Sunami, Research Institute for Cultural Heritage in Gangoji)
16:00 - 16:40 Failure teaches success: A miscommunication between source community and researchers(Shimpei Ota, National Museum of Ethnology)
16:40 - 17:10 Fundamental idea and plan of the “National Museum of Ainu Culture”(Shiro Sasaki, National Museum of Ethnology)
17:10 - 17:50 Discussion
17:50 - 18:00 Closing remarks