The Okinawa Prefectural Museum will work to broaden, deepen and expand the scale, purposes, identity and work of the old Shuri Museum to build a true 21st century museum.
The Okinawa Prefectural Museum was established to create a focal point for the systematic study, collection and preservation of materials and resources related to Okinawa's nature, history and culture, and to exhibit the results to people in the prefecture, in the nation and in the world, thus deepening understanding and raising the level of culture in this prefecture.
(From the Okinawa Prefectural Museum New Museum Construction Basic Plan, adopted October 1994)
A key mission of this museum is to continue to meet the needs of the future by promoting and deepening understanding of Okinawa's distinctive nature, history and culture through research, exhibition and diffusion activities. Through research, collection, preservation and exhibition activities related to resources of Asia and the Pacific with their deep ties to Okinawa we will promote cultural interchange in this age of internationalization.
In addition to scientific work on its own exhibitions and collections, we at the museum undertake broader Okinawa-related research projects. Research on a particular theme or topic focusing on a given geographical area may involve the entire research staff. In addition of course, individual staff scientists and scholars do research in their own special fields
The all-inclusive projects go into various surrounding islands and areas and look for primary resources across the whole range of fields-nature, history, folk customs, antiquities, arts and crafts-with which the museum is concerned. Starting with Agunijima Island in 1979, research on Yonagunijima Island has been ongoing since 2004.
Individual research takes several forms. Museum curatorial staff pursue research projects of their own devising in their specialties, and also respond to requests from people and agencies outside the museum. And of course, museum curatorial staff collaborate with universities and other researchers.
Through research and scholarship of these kinds, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum aims to deepen understanding of Okinawa's unique nature and special traditions, raising awareness in and outside of the prefecture of Okinawa's "special-ness" and enhancing, so to speak, its image.
Our museum collection includes an immense variety of "objects"-objects of different kinds and character, objects from different places, objects with different uses, made or originating at different times, objects with different weights and measures. To be sure of passing it on to the future in good order as it were, this rich bounty of museum resources must be preserved and managed with the best available techniques. Also, keeping an eye on the long term, we also have to keep up with the latest developments in museum management so as to be sure that our management, use and restoration practices are always on the cutting edge.
Specifically, we must be sure to keep temperatures and humidity at optimal levels; we have to guard against insect and pest infestations; we must continually work to prevent deterioration and damage to our holdings, and to restore those that are already damaged. And last but far from least, we have to keep detailed systematic preservation and collection records. The computer is an immense help in this vital task and we are working to fully digitize our collection database.
Our museum's mission is to continue to gather in artifacts and specimens relating to Okinawa across the broad spectrum of its nature, history and culture. Historical documents and other resources directly or indirectly relating to Okinawa are, needless to say, found here, but are also spread around various places in Japan and the world. This far flung distribution vividly testifies to ocean-bound Okinawa's long history of relations across the sea with Japan and other countries.
Exhibitions involve putting together items from the museum's collection under some theme or topic, for public display. Planning and putting together an exhibition require careful thought about the backgrounds and meaning of the items that might be included. Each potential selection has to be analyzed by museum curatorial staff in detail from every relevant perspective, the object itself and its relations to other objects, all with the goal of designing an exhibition that is as interesting and as easy to understand as possible.
The permanent exhibitions are the museum's mainstays. These offer an introduction to Okinawa's nature, history and culture. The museum also offers a rich menu of special and program exhibitions (Entrance fees differ for these.) designed around specific themes. Also, with its traveling museum and other special exhibitions held around the islands, the museum "jumps its walls" to take its treasures out to the people. This is one of the things that make the museum special, in our far-flung island prefecture, Okinawa.