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A Talk with the Curator on the Exhibition, “New Corona and Living Society”

Small temporary exhibitions can profoundly contribute toward understanding of human beings in a city, country, and the world. “The New Corona and Living Society” exhibition at Suita City Museum is an example. It documented the response of the Japanese people to the pandemic in 2020, depicting the efforts and experience in seeking protection from the virus, through displays of artefacts, such as those of medical gowns and face shields, an image of a long queue of people purchasing face masks at a drugstore, among other exhibits.

Curator Kenji Saotome shared his thoughts as a contemporary historian behind the organization of the exhibition. He spoke of his reaction to the health crisis, and his motivations to collect, curate, and share the documentation with the public.

The exhibition narrated the evolution of reactions and emotions in Japan to the pandemic, from shock, precaution, prevention, to fear and even anger. It laid bare the impact of the situation on the economy, society, and culture of Japan.

The records of what was happening during this uncertain and difficult period provide ways for future generations to learn and objectively examine the situation when they look back on this era in the future.

The talk offers you a general view of the social response to the pandemic in Suita City, Japan, which may evoke an interesting similarity to your experience wherever you are. At the same time, you can learn about curatorship from this talk about the exhibition, as a case study.

If you watched the SPAFA SESH A Talk with the Curator on the Exhibition, “New Corona and Living Society”, please complete the questionnaire (approximately 5 minutes) to help us improve future SPAFA SESHes: http://bit.ly/Evaluation-Form-SPAFA-SESH6-New-Corona-Exhibition-Suita-Museum

Date: 6 October 2020

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Bangkok time), 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Japan time)

Online Platform: Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/seameo.spafa/ and Zoom *(Register at: http://bit.ly/SPAFASESH_NewCorona_RegForm)

As the world faces threats from the new coronavirus, museums in Japan have been responding to the pandemic in many instructive ways.

Kenji Saotome, a full-time Curator at Suita City Museum, and his team are fully aware of their professional duty to “collect” and “archive” during the pandemic so as to record and help future generations learn about the current experience. They collected objects and documents to archive the story of the pandemic as they know that what happens today will be a “historical document” tomorrow. Their work was showcased in the exhibition, “New Corona and Living Society” at Suita City Museum during July and August 2020.

In the museological context, it was edifying about the way each step of the preparation of the exhibition was presented, the collection effort, the content creation and the inputs of the curator, Kenji Saotome.

Such exhibition create opportunities and allow the people to look back and appreciate what can be learned; they are invaluable to society as epidemics, like disasters, do occur repeatedly, yet people forget them soon.


Mrs Somlak Charoenpot, SEAMEO SPAFA Centre Director

[Discussion will be conducted in English]

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