On the Opening of the Intermediatheque

The Intermediatheque is an open facility jointly operated by Japan Post and the University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT), with the mission of contributing to society through its enlightenment and the diffusion of science.

In this facility, the scientific and cultural heritage accumulated by the University of Tokyo since its foundation in 1877 is permanently exhibited. The exhibition furniture mainly consists of items which were actually used for education and research. Most of it dating back to the Imperial University era, the solemn atmosphere it produces may lead some to feel as if they had time-slipped in the 19th Century. Our aim is precisely to span a period of three centuries, from the Golden Age of Natural History in the 19th Century to the establishment of a highly developed information society in the 21st Century. To present an outlook on the world, of which the ages to come should not lose track, such is our aim.

Having been so far a storage space for our cultural heritage, museums have been solely considered as a place for exhibitions. However, by simply fulfilling this function, museums can no more satisfy the demands emanating from our 21st-Century society. Far from simply perpetuating a comprehensive view of how humans have successively understood the world surrounding them, museums now have to investigate on ways to draw new knowledge and means of expression from things and collections gathered there, and to present the fruits of such research. An experimental arena aiming at such an enterprise through the dialogue of various means of expression, such is the Intermediatheque.

Historical scientific specimens are most certainly a heritage from the past. However, at the same time, they constitute a resource which we should activate now while facing the future. In order to demonstrate this, we collected as much historical heritage as possible, and modified its design for a new use, in accordance with our contemporary needs. In a society facing its limits in obtaining natural resources and energy supplies, it is no exaggeration to state that the task of redesigning accumulated extant objects is an urging issue confronting humankind. Aware of this, we intend to pursue our activities by further aiming at the fusion of leading-edge technology and traditional crafting techniques. Our slogan, “Made in UMUT”, thus contains a modest but strong message for the generations to come.

Our strong hope is that the Intermediatheque will be loved and supported from a wide audience in its further development.

Yoshiaki Nishino
Former Director, Intermediatheque
March 2013