Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)

Maholo Uchida

Manager, Exhibition Division

Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)

135-0064 2-3-6 Aomi Koto-ku Tokyo 135-0064 Japan


Tokyo, Japan

Asia Pacific Network of Science Technology Centres Creative Award 2014

Exhibition Design - The Interface For The Future

Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) is a new type of museum that was established in Tokyo 2001. Our nickname, “ Miraikan” originates from 2 Japanese words: Mirai” meaning future, and “Kan” meaning museum. So Miraikan literally means “Museum for the future”. Our mission is to help people understand the things happening in our world today from a scientific point of view, and engage in dialogues with real scientists while considering the future that awaits us. We believe that science and technology are part of culture, and we provide an open forum for all to ponder and discuss the future roles of science and technology.

14mira1xSince the beginning, Miraikan has been developing and evolving new science exhibition theories, which includes activity, experience, engagement, and science visualization. There are two unique aspects about Miraikan’s exhibitions. First, we do not have “collections of artifacts” because our exhibitions are linked to the most up-to-date, cutting-edge science that leads us into the future. We continually develop exhibitions every year because cutting edge science changes and advances so very quickly. Second, the science and technology topics are based upon on-going research that has no artifacts; therefore we face no such limitations in exhibit design. Thus, we need to challenge ourselves to explore new exhibition styles unencumbered by objects, artifacts or museum activities.

The internal exhibition development team comprises half from a science background and half from a creative background and together work to visualize science. We plan and design all exhibitions and activities together with outer creative talents like architects, product designers, movie makers, musicians, game designers, and illustrators to name a few, building a customize team according to the target and mission of each exhibit. The exhibition is not an artifact to share and admire, it should be an attractive, interactive interface to imagine the future, and to share scientific thinking and the knowledge of cutting edge science.

An example of such an exhibition would be “Song of Anagura”, one of the most attractive exhibitions in Miraikan that help visitors experience “spatial information science” that premiered in 2011. The exhibition design is based on game theory with sensors, a tracking system, and songs created with a singing voice synthesizer. Our team was composed of our in-house group and a game producer and designer to discover how we could invite the visitors/players into a “made world”.

Spatial information science is the science of measuring the behavior of people and objects in a real living space, calculating and understanding the results, and thereby supporting and improving people's spatial lives. In other words, it involves creating a digital copy of the world, anticipating what will happen next in this world, and preparing, in advance, the information that people desire, thereby avoiding problems that typically occur. The more information provided by people (visitors), the more substantial the results. You gain a sense that when spatial information science permeates society, the world will know, protect, embrace, and support you.

Games have sustaining rules, and theories with many exhibitions following the game designing approach. The goal is for the visitor to share and experience an imagined future. The rule is the process of exhibition. The player is the visitor. The visitor follows instructions and visits a totally imaginary world set 1,000 years in the future: the “Anagura=cave”. Anagura is an advanced research laboratory sharing people's information and turning the information connections into a powerful force for humankind.

14mira2xEach visitor has an avatar that follows, guides, collects and deposits the visitor’s information into Anagura. This process enriches the visitor’s sense of power cumulating into the happiness event= a song derived from the visitor’s information that then is played in the space.

The exhibition won the “Japan Media Art Festival” in entertainment award, which is maybe the first time a science exhibition was so recognized as an entertainment piece. The exhibition looks a physical, interactive game, as the visitor enjoys staying in, walking around, and communicating with other visitors thanks to each visitor’s avatar. Anagura’s world is pop, beautiful, sensual and full of happy music.

There is another award winning exhibition “Tsunagari”, the 2014 “Good design award, best 100”. “Tsunagari” consists of our symbol exhibit, the Geo-Cosmos and two tools, the Geo-Scope and the Geo-Palette. The Geo-Cosmos is the symbol exhibit of Miraikan that produces a rendition of our Earth shining brightly in space with a super high resolution exceeding 10 million pixels. It is the world's first "Globe-like display" using organic LED panels. It is one example of an exhibition that works as an exhibit, also a science visualization device, and works as an educational and research system.

Through collaboration between researchers and artists within and outside Japan, this project involves collecting scientific information about the Earth, and presenting and communicating the information in a visual manner that appeals to the senses. The mission of this project is to deepen our knowledge about Earth and ourselves, consider what each person can do in order to relate today’s Earth to future generations, and create a vision for the future with people around the world. These three tools connect the exhibition system to the world, and create a new perspective of the Earth based on the concept of “TSUNAGARI” (links/relations/connections). We aspire to work other science museums and research institutes, and become a base for receiving and disseminating data to make Earth sustainable.

To attract people of all ages and interests, the initial visual is beautiful, and with closer attention a sense of communication discovered. Miraikan endeavors to create exhibitions that challenge the intellect, is beautifully attractive, and intelligently entertaining.

Like most museums, increasing visitor’s engagement is vital. Yet, our mission is goes beyond simply providing knowledge, our mission is to involve the visitor to conceive and create a future together with us. This mission is all-inclusive by involving our visitors, citizens, researchers, artists, and institutes. We have many exhibitions and systems that serve several experiences in science, development, and/or artistic expressions.

Miraikan is open to every person eager to make a better future, who wants to invite others to their project, who understands the power of collective creativity.


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