Unveiling the Sacred: The Emergence of Temple Museums in Japan
Law, Elisa Maelen
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Buddhist temple museums are a rising phenomenon within the landscape of museums in Japan, yet they are largely overlooked in Western scholarship and for the most part, not well understood. This qualitative study explores the emergence of Japanese Buddhist temple museums, the nature of their collections and exhibits, as well as their desired impact on temple visitors. Interviews were conducted with priests and curators at 10 temple museums across the Kansai region, Japan's cultural hub. Results suggest that temple museums use their collections to attract and maintain temple visitorship and to stimulate temple economy. Results also point to an ambiguity that pervades temple museum management regarding the curatorial intent of priests, their interpretation of visitor behavior and motives, and collections management. Further research can be pursued in the areas of traditional collection management, visitor interpretation, and temple museum best practices.
- Museology