The University Museum of the University of Tokyo and leading design firm Tanseisha Co. will join forces to to provide research into running museums, museum and company officials said.

The donation-funded research unit will be launched Oct. 1.

It will be equipped with think-tank functions and should help domestic museums stay up-to-date and pursue originality, the officials said.

“There are more than 5,000 museums in the country, but they are all the same in their basic concepts. They don’t have works to exhibit overseas, either,” said Yoshiaki Nishino, a University of Tokyo professor who will be in charge of the unit.

An official of the Tokyo-based Tanseisha said that although the firm helped produce some 600 of the country’s museums, there was concern about whether the situation could be left as is.

The company thus decided to donate 40 million yen a year over the next three years to the university for the research unit.

In addition to Toshiro Kamiuchi, a Hitachi Ltd. engineer who has worked on digitally archiving paintings at a Russian museum, the new unit’s roster of visiting professors will include architect Makoto Kikuchi and Tanseisha producer Tsuneo Ko.

The unit’s research projects will include the reevaluation of museum collections, the development of a system for education programs, and appraisals of museum projects. All are designed to raise the level of domestic museums to European levels.

“Currently, the unit is expected to exist for only three years, but I’d like to keep it in some form even after the university becomes an independent administrative agency,” said Susumu Takahashi, director of the Tokyo University Digital Museum.

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