Small-Scale Museums Study Group

Among the numerous small-scale art museums and other types of museums scattered around Japan, many are developing unique activities to take advantage of their own special characteristics.
The Small-Scale Museums Study Group was begun in 1995 as the Small-Scale Museums Working Group (SWG) within JCAM. In 2004 the group was given its current name. This study group aims to deepen interactions between art museums and other types of museums that self-identify as small-scale whether in terms of building size, budget, collection size or number of staff, as they seek resolution of the various issues facing such museums and build a network of shared knowledge and skills. Thus unlike the other JCAM study groups, the members of this group are the museums themselves, and not individuals. At present the group includes more than 50 museums, each small in scale but emphasizing their unique qualities as they seek to strengthen their activities rooted in their regional locales, from Hokkaido to Kagoshima.
Many of these small-scale museums are named for a single artist, and research on the arts by their artist based on their core collection is an important topic for them. There are also cases where regardless of size, these museums address issues that face all museums. With the aim of honing techniques needed for deepening knowledge about the various aspects of museum work, the group has held study sessions based on far-ranging themes, from education to lighting, copyright law, publicity, storage area architecture and regional connections. In 2013, inspired by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the group published Guidelines for Creating Overall Disaster Manuals (Earthquakes) (2013) for use by museums for creating their own disaster manuals. This set of guidelines included examples from group member museums affected by the disaster and focused on the lessons that must be learned by institutions before disaster strikes. In 2014, the group held a joint session with the Designated Manager System Study Group and exchanged thoughts on the various subjects that arise in small-scale museums with different types of operating structures. To the greatest degree possible we hope to replicate our group findings in the larger scale debates of JCAM as a whole.
In addition, the group also works on jointly organized exhibitions. Experiments utilizing collections from a number of museums have been carried out, such as Strolling through Private Art Museums – Seven Western Style Painters (2001) and Marie Laurencin and Her Age: The Painters who Fascinated Paris (2011-2012). In addition, group members work together in loaning artworks to other group member museums and dispatching lecturers for talks and other events.
The Small-Scale Museums Study Group hopes to work together in the future to share information between small-scale museums throughout Japan and fully realize the use of our research. We hope that these activities will encourage all the more people to visit these fascinating small museums throughout Japan.

Kita Sanae
December 2, 2015
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