By YU NAKATSUKA
Komaba Museum, taken by author.
Enter the main gate of the Komaba 1 Campus. Turn right, go straight, and you will see the building in the picture. Many of you may have walked passed but never gone inside. If so, you are missing out on some fascinating learning opportunities. This building is the Komaba Museum which has a history spanning more than 50 years.
Aside from the permanent Exhibition about Oman, Komaba Museum holds exhibitions about 3-4 times a year ranging on themes from literature to physics. Professors from Tokyo university offer and organize each exhibition. Professor Orimo, director of Komaba Museum, says that the Museum’s mission is to disseminate the research done at the University of Tokyo especially to students in Komaba.
The most recent exhibition was “Novelists and Newspapers: The Golden Age 1900-1939”. For people like myself, who have little knowledge about literature, the theme of the exhibition may sound a little unfamiliar. However, detailed and clear explanation panels provide us new perspectives toward literature.
Today, popular novels are sold and read in books. However, exhibited newspapers in early 19th century tell us a different story. Back then, newspapers were the main way to publish novels. Well known novels that are still read today such as “Sherlock Holmes” or “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo“ first earned their fame as serial novels on newspaper. The exhibition further shows us how newspaper affected the novelists and how the books and newspaper differed.
For example, “Doctor Dolittle” was first published in book form and later appeared on newspaper. Explanation panel shows that the caption of the illustration changed on newspaper, altering entirely the understanding of the novel.
According to Professor Orimo, newspapers became cheaper because of printing technology and the introduction of advertisement fee. Newspaper and newspaper novels became more popular to the public. Some novelist such as Dickens or Dostoyevsky may sound academic to us now, but people back then looked forward to the next installment on the newspaper every week. “ To them, those stories were like light novels!” Orimo says.
Furthermore, he also stress the importance of preserving actual historical records and exhibiting it in museum. Today, a trend to make digital record is prevalent in historical research. Although there are many advantages of making digital records, there are something that only real records can tell. We should understand strong points of each methods to study historical records and use them.
He also told me about their next exhibition from July 15 to September 18. It will be about a famous physicist Toda Kazumori. He is famous for his research about structure of liquid. Exhibition will not only show as about his research but also about his interest in toys.
From my experience of visiting “Novelists and Newspapers: The Golden Age 1900-1939”, I assure you that you will learn something new by visiting exhibitions in Komaba Museum.