Chapter 8. Producing Multimedia Exhibits for Multiple Audiences at Hokkaido University Museum

Guven Peter Witteveen

Guven Witteveen is an anthropologist interested in the science of outreach from university to teens and the wider public. From 2001 to 2007 he directed outreach education for National Resource Centers, beginning with Asian Studies (Michigan State University), then Japanese Studies (University of Michigan). There he promoted intercultural knowledge and experiences among teachers, students, and the public. Now as consultant he most recently has worked for Hokkaido University Museum in Sapporo, Japan, to produce multimedia that visitors can use before arriving, on-site, and after leaving the museum. With a grant from the Library of Congress Asia Division, he is producing several short movies from the photographic collections there. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Outreach for International Education and was elected council member on the Society for East Asia Anthropology.


The year 2009 marked the tenth anniversary of the Hokkaido University Museum (HoUM) on campus. Three years before its creation since the national government in Tokyo had directed that science education should be more accessible to citizens. The museum's small collection of artifacts and campus history was given a prime location, with staff and programming to engage the public in subjects rooted in the expertise of the faculty and stories local to the island of Hokkaido. In recognition of ten years of special exhibits as well as ongoing refinements to the permanent collections, the HoUM decided to find ways to present its materials online, thereby expanding its potential audience.


I was invited to Sapporo to produce multimedia material between March and June 2009 together with my host researcher of informatics, Dr. Yuuki Komata. In those weeks we demonstrated ways to present the exhibit hall stories visually online, we taught faculty and students how to continue making more digital content of their own research subjects, and we produced sets of panorama views, online albums, audio tours, and short introductory audio slideshow movies for playback online or at gallery kiosks on-site to extend the informal learning.


Museums have come a long way from being “cabinets of curiosities” (Karp, Kreamer, & Lavine,1992) to being hybrid learning communities of online engagement or experience with original materials on-site (Costello & Bliton, 2009). This essay discusses digital mediation at the Hokkaido University Museum in Sapporo, Japan, in order to distill lessons for making the exhibit subjects more accessible to the public. Beyond artifacts and galleries, these same methods for presenting words and images may be of use to authors seeking to streamline their materials for wide appeal through the internet.


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