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The curious things that Japan’s museums like to hang on to

by Jordan Sievers

Staff Writer

A collaboration between The University Museum, The University of Tokyo (UMUT) and Kyoto University Museum (KUM), “Chamber of Curiosities: KUM Version” presents around 50 historical scientific specimens on loan from KUM.

This collaboration has allowed the institutions to reach a wider audience and showcase not only each of their collections, but also to explain their general mission — to spread scientific knowledge and the work of the universities to the public.

Since 1996, UMUT has organized various exhibitions of specimens catalogued by The University of Tokyo. Of the showcased artifacts, most have been carefully preserved and maintained in pristine condition. The curators say that they hope such shows can guide visitors into understanding how science and art are related and therefore important to each other.

In addition to their scientific and artistic significance, the exhibits provide an opportunity for visitors to experience a different kind of historical overview, spanning the Edo Period (1603-1867) to the early Showa Era (1926-89). Visitors will also be able to learn how specimens are collected, and their data recorded, through hands-on activities, as well as educational materials and equipment prototypes.

For some of the more delicate exhibits, it will be the first time they’ve been shown outside of Kyoto University Museum.

“Chamber of Curiosities: KUM Version” at JP Tower Museum Intermediatheque, runs till May 25; open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Thur, Fri. till 8 p.m.) Admission is free. For more information, visit www.intermediatheque.jp.