Museum education and international understanding : representations of Japan at the British Museum
This study examines how 'Japan' has been represented at the British Museum, and how the Japanese collection and exhibitions have contributed to the promotion of international understanding as defined by UNESCO in 1974. I address the research questions: - How has Japan been represented at the British Museum, and how does the 'Discovering Japan' exhibition fit within this context? (Part 2) - What perceptions did British pupils have of Japanese culture and people, and how did these change after the visit? (Part 3) - What understanding (that is appreciation and interest) did these pupils have of Japanese culture and people, and how did this change after the visit? (Part 3) -What lessons might be learned for future exhibitions about Japan? (Part 4) This study consists of four parts. Part 1 explains the research background and its methodologies. Part 2 is a documentary analysis of the history of the representation of Japan in the British Museum. It addresses the development of the Japanese collection, its educational use, and how a hands-on exhibition - Discovering Japan - fits within this context. Part 3 analyses how a travelling exhibition - Discovering Japan - promotes British pupils' understanding of Japanese culture and people. I examine pupils' verbal and visual perceptions, and understanding before and after exhibition exposure. Most pupils expanded their perception of Japan and sustained a high appreciation of the people. However, pupils who already held negative perceptions rarely changed their views. Part 4 provides recommendations for the further promotion of international understanding in museums. I suggest a Gdi model in planning this type of exhibition and recommend: 1) an awareness that children understand displays differently from adults; 2) consultation with native professionals at the exhibition planning stage; 3) surveying pupils' perception of the culture in focus; and 4) developing links between museums and schools.