Business Management and Structural Changes in Museum Organization in Japan 1 The situation of museums in Japan


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Business Management and Structural Changes in Museum


in Japan

1 The situation of museums in Japan

In Japan, there are national, local public and private museums like in many other

There are about 5300 museums in 2002. Out of them
, 71

% are local public, 26%
private, and 3 % national. Though there have been some museums closed, on the
whole, museums have been increasing. They have increased by about 250 as
compared with in 1999

But the recent long economic recession of Japan has been affecting Japanese
museums heavily.

For instance, the number of visitors to museums has been decreasing since 1995.

It was about 269 million in 2001, which was 21.2 million less than in 1995. The
auses of the decrease are not so clear, but they might include the drop of

personal income, less tourists, increased large scale entertaining facilities
like theme

less funds for renovating exhibits etc.

Social and economic reforms are goin
g on and administrative structural reforms
have been pursued to vitalize Japan as a whole. Decentralization, Deregulation
and Privatization are three mottoes of the reforms advocated by the central
government. Museums cannot be put out of the realm
of the


2 National museums and their restructuring

National museums were

governed and financed directly by the
national government. Their expenses came from the national treasury. Their
budgets were compiled through

with the minis
try concerned.
minister in charge

appointed the directors and senior staff

of museums.

their director appointed the other staff

All of full
time staff was civil

In 2001, almost all of the national museums were incorpor
ated into independent
administration institutions like other
institutions that

were under direct control of
ministries. They have become semi
independent. Although
the minister in charge
appoints their directors and auditors
the director of each instituti

appoints all
other staff

including executive directors. The term of directors is stipulated. The
status of staff is kept as civil servant. The budget is appropriated as a block grant
from the ministry in charge. Thus the

power of each inst


increases about budget and

Instead, the minister indicates to each institution a mid term goal to be
accomplished. According
to the

goal, each institution makes a plan for five years

one for a year. Each year, the sp

in the ministry
evaluates to what extent the plan has been accomplished. After five years, the

will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the institution

in the


of the mid term goal.

On the basis of the evalu
ation, the minister examines the necessity of continuing
activities of the institution and future form of its organization and management and
decides necessary measures to be taken.

Since introduction of this system, national museums tend to have a keen
wareness of visitor

s reaction. as it affects the number of visitors and the revenue.
They also try to get fund from private sectors to improve exhibitions and other
activities. Restaurants and museum shops are refurbished to attract more customers.
e this system is quite new to museums, both

(museum and ministry)
have to do a lot work to make it convincible to people concerned as well as to the
public. Still efforts are being paid to set up suitable criteria for evaluating

3 Local pu
blic museums and measures for their rationalization

The recent economic recession also affects tax revenues of local governments.
The budgets of local public museums have been cut down. It caused the

of full
time staff and their salary as well as expenses for hiring part
time staff, holding
l exhibits and renovating permanent exhibitions.

In Toyo Metropolis, its two museums, nature and literature, were closed as a result
of administrative evaluations from the

of necessity,

and equity.
Administrative evaluations are intro
duced in other local governments to increase
effectiveness of their services.

Local public museums are governed and financed by either prefectural or
municipal governments. The administrative structure and management of these
museums are similar to th
ose of national museums before 2001.

In recent years, many local governments of prefectures and big cities have set up
foundations that

take charge of administering local public museums to
rationalize their management and to increase its flexibili
ty. In some cases, curators
are hired directly by the foundations and administrative officers are sent in rotation
from local governments. This gives rise to complexities in their management.


Last year, the law regulating the management of local governmen
t was revised.
It enables a local government to entrust the management of its institutions
including museums to private companies with the approval of its legislature. This
revision causes concerns among museum people that it might spoil the public
er of museums.

Private Finance
Initiative (
P.F.I.) has also been introduced to make use of private
funds and managing technique in building and managing local public facilities
including museums. One prefecural modern art museum was established in
ion with a private

and an aquarium was set up by getting
cooperating from the prefectural government.

4 Private museums and decrease of their income from funds

Most of private museums are established and maintained either by non
s or by

organizations. The others are by private companies or by
individual collectors. The main sources of income for non
profit foundations are
supposed to come from the interest of deposited money or the dividend of stocks
they hold as funds f
or operation. But the recent economic depression decreases
these sources of income.

They have to collect more fees or ask donations from private companies
concerned. Generally, national and local governments do not give subsidies to
them. Tax

exemption is given to the museums registered by prefectural
governments. But that measure is not effective enough to collect donations from
the public. Many private museums have to rely heavily on fees for admission and
events or sales at shops and restau

5 Challenges Japanese museums are facing

Museums have been asked to increase visitors by making exhibits more attractive
and by holding various cultural events such as
seminars, workshops
, concerts,

etc. They have also been requested to

tackle juvenile problems by exploring
programs suited to

with the cooperation of schools. Besides, they
have been required to increase collaboration with communities by encouraging
more community people to participate in museum programs as

Japanese museums are facing challenges to cope with economic and

as stated above and they have to show to the public that they are
capable through achievements.


6 Japanese Association of Museums and guidelines for 21


n 1998, Japanese

of Museums set up Special

Committee to
consider the future structure and activities of the museum in 21

century. After two
years discussion, it issued a report

The Museum of Dialogues and Cooperation

emphasizing th


its activities to meet various needs of
society by having dialogues inside and outside the museum and securing

among museum staff and that with the people of the community
where it situates.

To put the idea of the rep
ort in practice, the Committee issued guidelines

Desirable Image of the Museum

in 2003. The guideline stresses the following points
of view.


Museums should clearly show their social missions and
make their management open to the public

Collection of


should pursue studies on objects entrusted by the
society and convey the objects with the result of their studies to the next

Communication activities of

Museum should share intellectual
stimulation and

pleasure with citizens, and should create new values.

7 Mission statement, long

m楤 te牭 灬p渠慮a se汦

The guidelines recommend each museum to clarify its own mission and try to
write a mission
statement that

can be understood by everyone. By so doing, each
museum can make clear its identity and ra
ison d

etre to the public.
On the

statement, each museum is recommended to draft a long

mid term plan to show
the itemized goals of its activities and make an each year plan accordingly.

In each year, each museum is advised to sum up the result of
its activities and
evaluate it according to each year plan. For long

mid term, same procedures are
recommended and it is also advised to make all these

results known to
the public. All these contribute to increase understanding and support of th

of the community where each museum situates. In above process, each
museum is asked to embody the spirit of

Dialogues and Communication


8 Nine items to be evaluated

As the basic items for the self
evaluation, the report shows the following ni
items and gives explanations on each tem.

(1) The mission and planning of museums


The reason and purposes of the existence of museums are different among them.
Each museum should clearly express its own “mission”, and should act with plans for

the mission.

Each museum should clearly indicate its own mission in a written document.

Each museum should draw up plans for completing its own mission from
term or long
term point of view.

ith regard to its own mission and plans, each museum sho
uld develop
common understanding with its establisher.

The staff of each museum should understand the relationship between their
own work and the mission and plans of each museum. They should try to
contribute to the completion of the mission through carry
ing out their own

The staff of each museum should set forth concrete targets of their own work,
and should check and evaluate the progress of their work.

(2) The
, custody and utilization of objects


kept in a museum are public
properties of a society that has set up
the museum. Both natural environments and historical
protection and inheritance are supported by museums are common heritages of
all human beings. Each museum bears the important role of maintaining a
protecting its


and their environments beyond the present age and transfer
them to the next generation.

ach museum should work out its policies for collecting


and protecting
their environments in accordance with its own mission.

n colle
each museum should observe relevant laws of the
country where

they are

located, relevant laws in other countries concerned,
and international treaties and agreements, etc. Each museum should also
consider the cultural and natural circumstanc
es of the region where they



customs in the region should also be respected.

Basic documentation records should be maintained and developed.

Each museum should prepare and develop proper facilities and equipment for
the safe custody of i

Each museum should determine a plan for keeping its

in order.

Each museum should develop proper lists of

kept in
, and should make
the lists available to outside researches and other people including the general
public for the
ir utilization.


Museums should promote practices of borrowing and lending museum
materials among them, in accordance with their nature and conditions, so that
they may be effectively utilized by all museums.

(3) Research work

Museums undertake research w
ork in order to clarify and increase the value of
kept in museums and to contribute to the intellectual activities of human
beings. It is also important for museums to do research in the field of museology
concerning exhibition, educational and pub
lic information activities and
administration and management of museums.

Each museum should determine its policies for research work based on its

Each museum should endeavor to help the results of its research work
contribute to the activities (co
ncerning learning, research

protection of
cultural properties, etc.) of a wide range of people including community
people. The results of the research work of each museum should also
contribute to the development of academic research.

(4) Exhibition and e
ducational and public information activities

Through exhibition or other activities, museums


open to the public those

and information which have been inherited from the past, so that these
materials and information may be utilized by contempo
rary people. The materials,
and information are also utilized in various educational and public information
activities of the museum. Activities for bringing up the next generation play very
important roles in museums.

Each museum will determine its polici
es for exhibition and educational and
public information activities on the basis of its mission.

Each museum will revise its permanent exhibition in accordance with definite
plans on the basis of its mission and the characteristics of the

it keeps.

In holding its permanent and special exhibitions, each museum will consider
changing social circumstances and people’s needs.

Each museum will attempt to realize exhibitions that will be easily understood
and enjoyable to visitors.

Each museum will carry
out educational and public information activities
(including lectures and workshops) related to the
exhibited and kept in
the museum, in order to help people carry out diverse learning activities.

Each museum will give children opportunities for ma
king themselves familiar


with its

(5) The development and management of physical facilities

As one of public facilities, each museum will study how to develop and
administer its facilities and equipment so that the public may easily use them.

h museum will develop itself as comfortable and safe environment.

Each museum will determine its opening hours and days in accordance with its
mission and with actual needs of the public.

Each museum will endeavor to make itself barrier
free for the elderl
y and the

Each museum will take measures for ensuring safety for visitors.

(6) The dispatch and opening of information

Each museum will actively dispatch museum information by utilizing diverse
information techniques and media. It will also

provide such information as the
public demands.

Each museum will determine its policies for public information and for opening
museum information to the public.

Each museum will actively carry out its public information activities so as to
promote people’
s understanding and utilization of the museum.

Each museum will open to the public information on its management.

(7) The participation of citizens

ach museum will aim to make itself a museum, which will be able to get
cooperation for its activities thr
ough active support and participation by the public
and through the progress of dialogues for understanding about its activities.

Each museum will develop such mechanism as will help reflect opinions of the
public in its management.

Each museum will provid
e the public with opportunities to understand its

Each museum will provide the public with opportunities to support its activities.

(8) The staffing of the museum

The director and other staff of each museum will endeavor to achieve its missio
through various activities.

Each museum will be staffed with its director and other necessary staff to


achieve its mission.

The scope of the authority and responsibility of the director of a museum should
be clarified so that he may effectively utilize i
ts human and physical resources
to achieve his

or her

role adequately.

Each museum should have museological professional staff that bears crucial
roles as specialists of museology.

Each museum will devise its proper structure and operation, including
rative relations between administrative staff and professional one, so
that its resources may be utilized to the maximum.

The director and other staff members of the museum will fully recognize its
social roles.

The museum will provide more training opport
unities to its director and other

Personnel who will be engaged in professional activities of museums need to
be trained.

Proper ethics should be established for the activities of people working at the

(9) Finance of museums and financial s
upport to them

The management of a museum requires securing its financial foundation. The way
for securing this financial foundation differs by types of control of museums:
whether a museum is controlled by the national government, by a local
government o
r by a private organization. Regardless of its type of control, every
museum is required to obtain people’s understanding as to its mission, as well as
social recognition and support for it, through its constant efforts.

Each museum should determine its f
inancial policy suited to its mission, and
should endeavor to secure a wide range of financial resources not only from its
establisher but also from many other sources including donation of

Each museum should determine its plans for the management
, and carry it out

Each museum should execute its responsibility for explaining the results of social
supports it gets.


and manuals

To make the self
evaluation easy, the

prepared a

in the

form of questionnaire shee
ts. They cover the above nine items and



into fifty sub
questions, each of which are graded into five levels. By

whole questionnaires, each museum can check its strong and weak points.


helps each museum to draw a strategy

its merits and make
up its defects.

The committee also prepared two
, one for w
riting mission statements
and drafting long

mid term plans and another for collection care.

For most of museums, mission statements and long

mid term are unfamiliar,

manual recommends them to organize a seminar to get common

not only amon
g curatorial and administrative staffs but also with

officials and representatives of volunteers.

10. Increasing accountability of museums

There are still difference of opinions between curators and administrative staff.
Curators are likely to

put emphasis on research work and administrative

to value cost effectiveness.

But Introduction of independent administrative institution into national

abolition of two Tokyo Metropolitan museums as a result of
administrative evalu
ation and the recent law allowing to private companies to
manage public museums aroused the sense of crisis among museum



of museum
management is

beginning to be
some museums


is done

to be sensitive to the needs of visitors.
Number of visitors is treated as the main
Partial changes of permanent
exhibitions and holding special exhibits more frequently with
fewer expenses

being pursued. To get

from volunteers, mo

are paid for
recruiting, training

and caring them. In preparing school programs, school
teachers are

to participate and also curators visit

as extension

By accumulating these efforts, museums try to make their activitie
s visible to the
public and increase understanding and support of them.


between curators and administrative staff, who tend to
criticize each other, becomes more important. It is urgent to find, train and
secure museum directors capable o
f keeping integrity of museums and
increasing their accountability to


Transition of number of museums and visitors in Japan

Transition of Japanese museums by type of establisher


Ye a r

To t a l

Na t i o n a l

L o c a l p u b l i c

Pr i v a t e

1 9 8 7

2 3 1 1

3 5

1 5 0 9

7 6 7

1 9 9 0

2 9 6 8

5 9

1 9 6 8

9 4 1

1 9 9 3

3 7 0 4

6 9

2 5 1 6

1 1 1 9

1 9 9 6

4 5 0 7

7 2

3 1 0 8

1 3 2 7

1 9 9 9

5 1 0 9

1 5 4

3 5 2 2

1 4 3 3

2 0 0 2

5 3 6 0

1 6 2

3 7 9 5

1 4 0 3

Vi s i t o r s t o J a p a n e s e mu s e u ms i n 2 0 0 1 b y t y p e o f e s t a b l i s h e r

( i n t h o u s a n d )

E s t a b l i s h e r

To t a l

Na t
i o n a l

L o c a l Pu b l i c

Pr i v a t e

Vi s i t o r s

2 6 9 5 0 3

9 6 7 4

1 6 9 3 8 3

9 1 4 4 6

Tr a n s i t i o n o f v i s i t o r s t o J a p a n e s e mu s e u ms

( i n t h o u s a n d )

y e a r

v i s i t o r s

1 9 9 2

2 8 3 0 8 7

1 9 9 5

2 8 6 0 0 1

1 9 9 8

2 8 0 6 4 9

2 0 0 1

2 6 9 5 0 3

Ko i c h i Iga r
a s h i

E xe c u t i v e Di r e c t o r

J a p a n e s e As s o c i a t i o n o f Mu s e u ms