A Community Memory Device Linking to the Next 100 Years: Sapporo University Exhibition Hall for Archaeological Properties

Kato Haruna was the exhibition leader for the special exhibition. Her major is archaeology.

The second stop on our tour of university museums is the Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Archaeological Properties. This spring, it will be relocated and renovated, becoming the Exhibition Hall of Historical and Cultural Properties.
Words by Shibata Miyuki
Photographs by Kurose Michio
Translation by Xene Inc.

The Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Archaeological Properties opened in 1989. In 2010, it was relocated, and the permanent exhibits in its second exhibition hall were handled by students who are in the curatorial program. In May 2023, the exhibits will be relocated to its third exhibition hall and renovated.

Permanent exhibition in the exhibition hall used from 2010 to March 2023 (Photo courtesy of Sapporo University)

From the end of January to May each year, an exhibition is held in which students take charge of everything from planning to exhibition and interpretation (this year, the exhibition ended on March 17 due to preparations for relocation). The finale of the second exhibition hall was "Hidden Footprints: Toyohira in Transition". 16 third-year students in the curatorial program were divided into three groups and covered the changes in the Nishioka area of Toyohira-ku, where the university is located, under the three themes of transportation, industry, and history.

Another unique exhibit is "Pick up a brush! Grab a pen!: From Birds and Animals Caricatures to Manga," which was a project brought in by fourth-year student Soga Kanji. It focused on the connection from the Heian period (794 to 1185) bird and animal caricatures to the Hokusai Manga by Katsushika Hokusai in the Edo period (1603–1867) as well as to modern manga.

Soga's project combines replicas of the bird and animal caricatures owned by the Sapporo University Library with reprints of rare comic books and other items from Soga's collection

This year's exhibition seemed a bit challenging for the students. According to Professor Matsutomo Chikako, Director of the Exhibition Hall of Archaeological Properties, in the past, many of the themes allowed students to make full use of the university's abundant archaeological and Ainu cultural materials, but this time they had to make up most of the exhibition with materials that the university did not have. They asked museums and companies to lend materials, and at times borrowed or acquired materials from individuals through personal contacts to put together the exhibits.
The students said, "It was difficult to gather materials and information within a limited time frame to create the exhibit." Above all, they must have been frustrated that they could not accept visitors from the general public due to COVID-19 and that their exhibit was not seen by the community. Despite this, they felt that they were able to, "Experience firsthand how much knowledge and effort goes into a museum or art museum exhibit," an experience that reminded them of the importance of curatorial work.

Professor Matsutomo (front row, center) and students who worked on the exhibition. (Front row, from the right) Murakami Yuna, Nakamura Kaito, (back row, from right) Maekawa Kosei, Kato Haruna, Soga Kanji, and Torii Kotaro.

The Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Archaeological Properties plays an important role in the community. In fact, there is no historical archive in the Nishioka area. Professor Matsutomo fears that, "Without a place to preserve history, the history of the region will be rapidly forgotten." She says, “I believe that Sapporo University, which offers a major in history and culture and has an exhibition hall, must take on a central role in preserving Nishioka's history as a memory device for the region and pass it on to the next 100 years. That is why it is very significant that the students chose the theme of looking back on the history of Nishioka.”
When Sapporo University first opened, a hop farm operated by Sapporo Breweries was located near the campus. Hops were planted on campus in 2022 with the completion of the new school building, as part of an effort to carry on the history of the region for the next 100 years.
Sapporo University also signed a comprehensive regional agreement with Mukawa High School in the town of Mukawa. Mukawa High School students were invited to Sapporo University for a tour and curatorial program students provided explanations of the exhibition hall and demonstrated the making of Ainu handicrafts. High school students who have had this experience may enroll in the curatorial program and become future leaders in communicating the history of their respective regions.

The third exhibition hall, which will open soon, will be renamed the "Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Historical and Cultural Properties," and will be reborn as an exhibition hall where special exhibitions will be the main focus. It will be interesting to see what kind of exhibits will be presented by students in the future.

*Student academic years are as of February 2023 at the time of the interview.

Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Historical and Cultural Properties (Former Sapporo University Exhibition Hall of Archaeological Properties) *Scheduled to open in May 2023
Sapporo University Building No. 1, Nishioka 3-jo 7-chome 3-1, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Tel.: 011-852-9182
Hours: 9:30 - 14:30
Open: Tuesday-Friday
Admission: Free of charge

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