Founded in 1897, the Kyoto National Museum holds a rich collection of art and artifacts from Japan and East Asia, with the majority of the materials originating in the ancient era through the nineteenth century. Offering an English-language website (in addition to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean), the museum site is accessible and user-friendly. It will be particularly valuable for instructors looking to mobilize a collection of images and objects from ancient through early modern periods of Japanese history for student exploration.
One can access images of the museum's holdings online through two main databases at the site. The KNM Collection Database offers a means to search and view over ten thousand images and five thousand objects and sets within its holdings. A second means of searching is via the KNM Gallery. The search engine can be utilized to search for keywords within a title as well as by a designated category (e.g. painting, calligraphy, sculpture, etc.) It also allows online visitors to peruse selections from specific categories of the collection. One may, for example, browse chosen images from collections of textiles, ceramics, or ink paintings, among other categories.
Image presentation is relatively user-friendly, including, in some instances, additional images or close-up views that offer examined detail of the objects, images, and figures. See, for example, the 19th century "Child with Fox Mask; Gosho Doll" from Japan's Edo Period housed under the category of textiles. The entry here provides basic details (country, time period, dimensions) and enlarging the image enables users to examine the doll's form, materials, and detail of its embroidered garb and puckered grin. A teacher might find it productive to invite students to brainstorm the material composition of the doll and possible means of manufacture, as well as their potential uses, and the relationship between objects, production, and consumption within local society for the historical periods represented.
Image quality does vary, however, both in resolution and in the frequency of black-and-white photographs rather than color, yet with strategic use, this site offers valuable materials for classroom utilization.
This review was originally written for the Children and Youth in History project. It was revised for World History Commons by Daniel Howlett, George Mason University.