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Creating Museums that Inherit Local History by the Residents Themselves: Community Museums Starting in Shiga

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Ohmi Community Museum Workshop
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Ohmi Community Museum Workshop

We are a professional group composed of researchers and practitioners. Four university faculty members, Shunsuke Takeda, Tomokazu Takada, Hideyuki Ichikawa, and Yoshinori Kasai, have researched sociology and folklore. In addition, Kazuhiro Takeyama (a local government official) and Satoshi Kimura (a representative of an architectural design firm) are participating in this project from an NPO that continues to focus on livelihood and housing.

We have been running a community museum with students and local residents through the University of Shiga Prefecture, asking around about memories related to local communities and houses, and collecting materials related to folk tools used in daily life and local events.

All members share a mutual respect for the professional roles played by researchers and practitioners respectively, as well as an interest in the local community. And we share a strong desire to work together with the local community, rather than to carry out this project on our own.

What is your research vision?

What we would like to achieve is the realization of "a society in which each community has its own unique community museum where the memories and history of the local community are discussed and exhibited within the community.” In other words, we are aiming for a society: residents can conduct their research on the history and lifestyle of their community; they can rediscover the community and promote it; and, through such activities, residents can nurture the next generation as the inheritors of the community themselves.

In recent years, many museums seeking to open their doors to the public have been established in various regions of Japan. In this context, our goal is for residents to act as "curators" and, with the help of experts, conduct research on the history, folklore, and culture of their community based on their own interests and needs, and exhibit and share the results of their research. The following are the issues to be addressed in this project. (1) To rediscover and utilize the historical materials and cultural assets left in the community by the residents. (2) To establish a local museum where people can delve into the history of their own community and share their findings. (3) To research and support the compilation of local histories. (4) To build a network for the development of these activities.

How do you realize your vision?

We have found significance in the inheritance of historical heritage, historical descriptions, and local activities based on traditional culture and historical documents carried out by local residents. In addition to clarifying the specifics of these activities, we have operated a community museum with students in cooperation with residents, and discovered local values that even the residents were unaware based on the materials that lie in their homes.

There are many museums in Shiga Prefecture established by villages and individuals. However, we learned that some of them have been inactive. Therefore, together with students, we have been engaged in support activities for them. For example, since FY2009, we have been organizing and exhibiting materials at the Shiratani History and Folklore Museum, a regional museum that makes use of old houses in Takashima City. We are also organizing materials at the Nishikawa Family, a reed wholesaler in Maruyama, Omihachiman City. In addition, in the Higashi Kusano district of Maibara City, we are developing the Higashi Kusano Mountain Village Museum using a classroom in a closed elementary school, which opened in July 2022.

As shown above, our research approach is characterized both by analyzing the possibilities for residents to engage in practices related to history and local heritage, and by being actively involved in and supporting such practices ourselves. In this project as well, we will first create opportunities for dialogue with the residents who will work with us to build a community museum. We will then work together with them to develop the concept of the museum, collect materials, and plan exhibitions to advance the project. Furthermore, we will publish our practices and results on our website as well as in a book.

What is the research theme of this crowdfunding project?

We will pursue our research under the following four themes, in order to realize of "a society in which each community has its own unique community museum where the memories and history of the local community are discussed and exhibited within the community.”

1. Review and Support of Existing Activities

We will review existing cases that have already achieved results in the establishment of community museums operated by residents and in the publication of local histories. Items to be examined include the process leading up to the start of the activities, budget and staffing, facilities, etc. to serve as a base, management know-how, cooperation with experts, and so on. In addition, we will support activities if necessary.
A specific example of the subject of our research is the activities of the residents of the Kodera-cho community in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture. Through the analysis of their activities such as stone structure survey, folk event survey, editing local history, and preservation and arrangement of neighborhood association documents, we will explore the possibilities of practices concerning historical heritage in the local community. Moreover, at the museums in Shiga Prefecture introduced in the previous section, we will explore the issues and measures that residents can take to sustain the operation of their museums in the future. Based on this information, we aim to share and apply management know-how in other regions.

2. Support for Establishment of Museums

In parallel with the review of existing activities, we will start a new community museum together with local residents in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, in cooperation with neighborhood associations and other residents, based on the issues and possibilities identified in the survey. Specifically, we expect to work with communities along the route of the old Tokaido Road, as well as communities in mountainous areas where many folk customs and events still remain today.

3. Network Construction

Although similar examples of community museums, such as the examples covered in this study, are spreading across the country, they have not yet been able to sufficiently connect with each other. This study is set in Shiga Prefecture, where each of the members of this project has had a proven track record. In fact, there are 30-40 regional museums in Shiga Prefecture alone. Starting with Shiga Prefecture, which is blessed with valuable historical and cultural resources and where residents are engaged in numerous activities to protect them, our first goal is to establish a workshop for community museums in each region to learn about each other's activities, stimulate each other's efforts, and develop their own activities. Then, we envision expanding the network to a wider area in the future.

4. Outreach and Publication of Results

We will continuously report on the progress of the community museum's activities and surveys of materials and folk artifacts on our website. The website will regularly report on how the museum is actually established together with residents, how materials and folk artifacts are surveyed and exhibited, and how activities are carried out so that many people can see the results. In addition, we will publish a book titled "How to Create a Community Museum" (tentative title) to share the results of the activities described in item 3, including the results of exchanges and networking with activities in various regions.

Shunsuke Takeda will represent the entire group to promote this project. Then, two groups will be organized. Each group will be responsible for the corresponding project, while working closely together as a whole.

Why we need your support

For this project, we would like your help with expenses that are difficult to cover with research grants intended for academic research.

In the "1. Review and Support of Existing Activities" phase, the program will research cases and participate in activities with students engaged in community-based activities. The funds will be used to cover the costs of these activities. This will help to revitalize the activities of the existing activities, and will also enable the knowledge gained from these activities to be utilized in new activities.
In the "2. Support for Establishment of Museums" phase, we will purchase document boxes, acrylic cases, panels, etc., which are necessary for operation and can be used over the long term to establish the foundation for our activities. However, the current expenses such as personnel, utilities, etc., will be paid by the communities that operate the museums to enhance the sustainability of the activities.
In "3. Network Construction," a symposium will be held to bring together people who are engaged in similar activities or who would like to do so in the future. Through this, we will create loose connections and a new consultative body. For this purpose, we will need to pay for the venue, travel expenses for speakers, and honorarium.
In "4. Outreach and Publication of Results," we will build an online archive of the museum's collection and publish the progress of our research on our website. We will also publish a book of our findings and distribute it to those who are involved in community museum activities in various regions and to those who have cooperated with us. We will also hire administrative staff to manage and publicize the project.

In order to realize "a society in which community museums can be established in each region," it is essential to collaborate with the people of each region. We would like to use this project as an opportunity to work together with you to realize this goal. Thank you for your support.

Recommender's comment

Akira Kikuchi
Assistant Professor, Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University

The original recommendation can be read on the Japanese page.

Tadayoshi Murakami
Professor, Faculty of Cultural Studies, Kyouto Sangyo University

The original recommendation can be read on the Japanese page.

佐藤 健二
東京大学執行役・副学長、未来ビジョン研究センター 特任教授


有末 賢
日本生活学会 会長・亜細亜大学 教授


Project timeline

Date Plans
2023年12月 研究開始
  • 栗東の新設コミュニティミュージアムの場所とコンセプト決定。白谷荘歴史民俗博物館・近江八幡西川嘉右衛門家での調査・展示活動(以降、毎月1回実施)。滋賀県内の各コミュニティ・ミュージアムの訪問・調査(2024年8月まで適宜実施)。
2024年2月 姫路市香寺町における住民による文書整理および文化財調査、大字誌作成の活動に関する調査
2024年5月 新設コミュニティミュージアムのオープン。18日(国際博物館の日)にオープン記念シンポジウムを開催。
2024年8月 白谷荘歴史民俗博物館所蔵の教科書資料による展示開催(滋賀県高島市今津東コミュニティセンターを予定)。
2024年9月 コミュニティ・ミュージアム交流会、シンポジウムに向けた報告書および書籍執筆開始。
2024年11月 滋賀県立大学で開催される学園祭(湖風祭)において展示。
2024年12月 コミュニティ・ミュージアム交流会、シンポジウム開催。
2025年3月 書籍『コミュニティ・ミュージアムのつくりかた』(仮題)出版。

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