ISSN 1016-1007 GPN2005600032
頁數:175﹣227 博物館作為媒介之災難展示意涵: 以五處日本地震災難博物館為例 The Implications of Museums as a Medium of Disaster Displays: A Case Study of Earthquake-Related Disaster Museums in Japan
Shulin Chiang
disaster display, museum, politics of cultural display, politics of science communication, scientific display
本文選取日本五處地震災難博物館為研究個案,視博物館為媒介,從媒介研究的文化角度,以及科學與科技研究(Science and Technology Studies, STS)角度切入,梳理博物館與災難展示的文化與科學意涵,並試圖建構災難展示的理論與分析架構。



As a so-called earthquake country, Japan has suffered from several serious ones in the past and has built sufficient ability to avert huge losses after earthquakes. To remind visitors of past experiences and equip them with scientific knowledge, scientific museums provide static and interactive displays on earthquake related events. Thus, this paper selects five scientific museums related to disaster display in Japan as a case study It regards museums as a medium, taking the perspective of cultural research in media studies as well as the perspective of science and technology studies, to conduct the research. It aims to sort out the cultural and scientific meanings of museums and disaster displays, attempting to develop a theoretical and analytical framework for disaster presentation.

This paper expands the traditional narrow definition of communication media and regards museums as a medium in a broad sense. It borrows from the International Council of Museum (ICOM), which defines ‘museum’ as “a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experience for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing” (ICOM, 2022).

Based on the definition of museum from ICOM, this research sorts out four approaches for museum displays. The first approach is the cultural aspect of the exhibition from the perspective of cultural anthropology to understand the multiple identities constructed by visitors when they visit and participate in the exhibition activities. The second approach pinpoints that museums inspire the audience to think about the politics of the exhibition. The third approach takes the standpoint that museums provide visitors with opportunities to engage in technology and science via mediation. The fourth approach focuses on the audience research, looking at the feedbacks from museum visitors.

Inspired from the abovementioned approaches, this study develops the research questions and analytical frameworks. It is of interest to investigate the relationship between museums and media, the meaning of cultural display and scientific display in museums, and the development of museums combined with new communication technologies. This research then inquires how museum displays of disasters construct various identities and collective memories of visitors. At present, many museums use technology intermediaries to assist various exhibitions. It is certainly interesting to investigate how such technology intermediaries affect public participation and how the public views such public participation in technology and science in disasters.

For answering the research questions, five earthquake-related museums located in Kobe, Osaka, Awaji, and Tokyo in Japan are selected, which include: The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution, Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, Abeno Disaster Prevention Learning Center, Nojima Fault Preservation Museum, and The Earthquake Reference Room in National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo. The common characteristics of these five museums are in their display of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, which caused 6,434 deaths, Japan’s deadliest earthquake in the 20th century after the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. The criteria of case selection are based on the types of disasters on display, hardware and software display facilities, significance of the disasters, relevance to research issues, and data collection methods.

The methods of documentary analysis and multi-point fieldwork are carried out in terms of data collection and analysis. The author visited the five abovementioned museums in Kobe, Osaka, Awaji, and Tokyo in Japan in 2019 and collected data via interviews, observations, second-hand documents, etc.

The study finds that the disaster presentation of these museums as a medium can be organized as follows. First, their disaster display constructs historical consciousness, collective memory, and self-identity, all of which are intertwined and constructed. Second, their disaster display has scientific connotations, mediating the scientific knowledge in the disaster. Through the relevance of life and the reproduction of culture, the audience can emotionally and actively participate in the scientific issues of the disaster display. Scientific displays in disasters are meant to inform the public about why disasters happen as well as how the disasters might be prevented and mitigated. The five disaster display museums studied in this article play that role. Third, interactive technology helps transmit scientific knowledge in disasters. Usually through actual participation in operations or hands-on methods, such as the earthquake simulation experience in this research, the public can experience the horror of earthquakes and then make their own preparation in advance to mitigate various possible losses after one.

The museums studied in this research provide good examples to investigate how disaster display in scientific museums construct collective memories and identities of visitors as well as how the displays transmit seismic knowledge. However, these museums seldom criticize the neutrality of seismic science, nor do they mention the politics of disaster. It would be much helpful if these five museums could further guide visitors to reflect on the related controversies, such as the politics of earthquake science, the disaster losses suffered by different victims due to different degrees of vulnerability, building and construction policies, and justice during the rescue stage. It is believed that doing so can remind visitors of the power aspect of scientific knowledge and the power display when disaster events reappear.

Finally, this study mainly focuses on the museum display of earthquakes, which is a natural disaster. Future research may target disaster displays of other natural disaster events like typhoons and floods. As more and more relevant research in the future looks to be conducted, it would be of great help to increase visitors’ perception and participation in science and technology.
2023/ 冬