The National Ainu Museum (NAM) opened on July 12, 2020, becoming the first national museum in Japan dedicated solely to Indigenous Peoples. The Ainu in Japan have a history of marginalisation and discrimination but have remained steadfast in preserving their cultural heritage and traditions. For over three decades, the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, founded by the Ainu themselves, symbolised Ainu pride and culture.
The NAM continues this legacy on a national and global scale.
The NAM's opening was delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the museum developed a virtual exhibit to enable people to access the collections from home. The team focused on two key objectives: showcasing the profound relationship between Indigenous peoples' world and nature and making the exhibit accessible to people worldwide.
Upon entering the virtual exhibit, visitors are greeted with stunning drone footage of Hokkaido's natural landscapes and the park surrounding the museum. The permanent and virtual 3D exhibitions tell how the Ainu people grew their philosophy through living in harmony with nature and the history of being deprived and struggling for life. The museum guide, recorded by staff in five languages, including the Ainu language, warmly welcomes visitors.
The virtual exhibit represents a remarkable technological achievement, blending the timeless spirit of Indigenous culture with the modernity of the museum exhibit. The NAM team believes that this reflects the ongoing resilience of Indigenous cultures in the modern world.
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