The world of unique museum goods

Books by Osawa Natsumi

We would like to add ‘museum goods’ as an enjoyable part of our tour around the museums. Here’s an invitation from a museum-goods enthusiast to learn more about the unique goods available.
Words by Osawa Natsumi (Museum goods enthusiast)
Photographs by Ito Rumiko
Translation by Xene Inc.

The appeal of museum goods

I am often asked, "What is the appeal of museum goods?" I think one of the main attractions is that they provide an incentive for people to actually visit the museum. Since the coronavirus pandemic, many museums have faced managerial difficulties due to the decline in the number of visitors, so I believe we can help support museums through merchandise. The message conveyed from visitors that purchase the goods is that they “are on the side of the museum," which encourages the staff involved.
There are many museums that do not sell goods, but in such cases, imagining what kind of goods you would develop is also a fun way in which to view the exhibits. When I find work or materials that inspire me, I often think "What could I do to convey the appeal of this work through merchandise?" Through the goods, visitors can appreciate the exhibits from a new perspective.
Goods also provide an incentive to visit the kinds of museums you would not normally visit.
Here, I introduce some of the recommended goods that can be purchased at museums in Hokkaido.

Five recommended goods

Kushiro City Museum:
Coal train masking tape (locomotive, coal car) 500 yen each (tax included)

A favorite among fans, this masking tape comes in two varieties: locomotives and coal cars, which can be combined and affixed to create a coal train of your choice. Originally created by a group of local railway enthusiasts when the coal train was retired from service in 2019, and sold directly at events. The illustrations have been checked by the curator, who is a railway enthusiast.

Kan Yasuda Sculpture Museum Arte Piazza Bibai:
Original‘MYOMU’ tote bag 3,000 yen (tax included)

An outdoor sculpture museum in the city of Bibai. The works of Yasuda Kan, a sculptor from the city, are displayed at the site of a former elementary school.
There are more than 40 sculptures in the spacious grounds, and it is fun for families to look around the outdoor works. My favorite is the tote bag, the design of which is a drawing by Yasuda Kan. I enjoy using it on a daily basis.
Kan Yasuda Sculpture Museum Arte Piazza Bibai online sales 

Miura Ayako Literature Museum:
Hug & Relax Forest Mist 30ml 2,200 yen (tax included)

At the Miura Ayako Literature Museum, which stands in a model forest of non-native trees, the setting of Miura's famous ‘Hyoten’ novel, a mist inspired by the model forest is recommended. It has a refreshing scent based on the fragrance of the Sakhalin spruce. Carry it with you and sprinkle it on your mask when you want to refresh yourself.
Miura Ayako Literature Museum online sales 

Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples:
Moccasin craft kit 1,500 yen (tax included)

I love the clothing section of the museum where you can learn about the cultures of the various peoples of northern regions. The hands-on kits used in activities in the museum are sold in the museum shop. My favorite is the baby-sized moccasins, which are easy to make at home.

Sapporo Olympic Museum:
Rubber bands 500 yen (tax included)

The recommended goods at the Sapporo Olympic Museum are rubber bands that come in five colors, in a box that reminds us of the Olympic emblem. These are good for giving to friends as a simple, inexpensive souvenir.

photo by Misato Kan
Osawa Natsumi
Born in 1987, Osawa became interested in museology while studying at Sapporo City
University, and the theme of her graduation project was museum goods. She entered a Hokkaido University graduate school, where she researched museum goods from the perspective of museum management theory, and completed her master's degree. After working as a company employee, she began her activities as a museum goods enthusiast.

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