The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology was established as a corporate museum in the birthplace of the Toyota Group. Now 21 years old, the museum was opened on June 11, 1994 on the centennial of the birth of Toyota Motor Corporation’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda.
The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is located on the original site of a pilot factory for development of automatic looms that was built by Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyota Group and father of Kiichiro Toyoda. The factory was opened about 100 years ago in 1911. Toyoda built his factory to develop, improve and test cloth weaving machines. Later, he also built a thread spinning factory on the site that became the head office and factory for a company he founded called Toyoda Boshoku Corporation. In fact, the Inaugural General Shareholders Meetings of Toyota Industries Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation were also held there. This site is certainly the birthplace of the Toyota Group of companies.
Seventeen companies of the Toyota Group are involved in running the museum, which was established for two purposes. The first was to tell the world, and in particular the youth of today, the importance of the “spirit of being studious and creative,” and the importance of monozukuri, or "making things." The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology uses the evolution of textile machine and automobile technologies to show the importance of this.
The other purpose of the museum was to preserve our industrial heritage of which many valuable examples, from an architectural perspective as well, remain onsite. Within the red brick walls and timber factory buildings, there are spaces that still have a number of pillars and that represent a valuable industrial heritage that must be left for future posterity. These buildings have historical value that the museum is preserving and reusing, while at the same time utilizing them as exhibition facilities.
This leads us to the characteristics of our exhibits. One of the main characteristics is the use of dynamic exhibits that allow visitors to see real textile and automobile-related machines in operation right in front of their eyes. The staff actually operate and talk about the machines so visitors can familiarize themselves with and understand the principles behind the designs, and the technologies behind the machines.
The museum’s exhibition spaces consist mainly of the Textile Machinery Pavilion and the Automobile Pavilion. Inside the entrance of the Automobile Pavilion, there is an area where visitors can see what Toyota automobiles looked like in the beginning, showing the evolution from textile industry to automobile industry. This area was refurbished for the 20th anniversary of the museum to make it easier to understand.
According to some visitors, the problem at the time was that because the exhibit consisted mainly of picture panels and explanations, they lost interest in reading before they got to the end. In other words, we were unable to tell our story because they would not read it all. Museums have to be able to convey the background and meaning of an exhibit before they can communicate its value. That is why we had to change our exhibits from those where visitors “had to read to understand” to ones where they “wanted to read to be moved.”
We partnered with Nomura Co., Ltd. in this project because we had been dealing with them since the museum was opened, so we commissioned the design and construction from them. Through our discussions, we decided to create a compelling exhibit where a diverse range of visitors, from children to adults and even international visitors, could experience the space through enjoyment of film and stories that inspire an intuitive interest and understanding. Rather than a static exhibit of things and descriptions like conventional museums use, we decided to reuse parts of the original factory to build life-sized dioramas that recreated typical scenes of the time. We constructed bold scenes using real documents and photos to create a unique exhibition space that uses cartoons to provide the descriptions. In addition to simplifying the descriptions, we made effective use of some of our founder’s memorable quotes that represent a dialogue of sorts that visitors could enjoy reading like a storybook. Another important element of the exhibit is the staff who explain each part directly to the visitors. The area is divided into five small rooms, with each space offering a slightly different experience and staff who explain the spaces in real life.
Thanks to this design, exhibits in the “Early Years” zone of the Automotive Pavilion received the Spatial Design Award 2014 (Gold Award) from the Japan Design Space Association, which is one of the largest spatial and environmental design awards globally. Its predecessor, the Display Design Award, started in 1966 and for 49 years was presented to excellent designs aimed at creating spatial communication.
The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology has also received other awards listed below, and with such recognition in Japan and around Asia, Toyota is extremely proud of this institution.• Display Industry Award 2014 (Nippon Display Federation) Silver Award• Sign Design Award 2014 (Japan Sign Design Association) Diamond Award• Asia Pacific Interior Design Award 2014 (Hong Kong Interior Design Association) Award of excellence• Design For Asia Award 2014 (Hong Kong Design Center) Merit Award
Looking ahead to the 25th anniversary of the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, we will endeavor to use this experience to further improve our exhibits so that visitors will enjoy listening to the messages we want to convey.
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