The Mission of the Meiji University Museum
Based on the University's founding philosophy of "Rights, Liberty, Independence and Self-Government", the Meiji University Museum aims to publicly exhibit the achievements of its academic pursuits and to also serve as an institution of learning.
The Museum is divided into three departments, each having a distinct origin. The Commodity Department, the successor to the "Commodities Museum" considers lifestyles through commodities; and the Criminal Materials Department, follows in the footsteps of its predecessor the "Museum of Criminology" and contemplates law and human rights. The Archaeology Department, formerly the "Archaeological Museum", is concerned with humankind's past and diversity.
In this 21st century, we are embroiled in a myriad of problems. We hope some hint to overcoming them can be found in this museum.
Commodity Department - A Wealth of Traditional Designs
Traditional lacquerware Bud vase in bamboo
In the face of surging machine-manufactured products, themselves a creation of these times of high economic growth, the former Commodities Museum sensed an impending danger of the demise to conventional handicrafts, and began to collect and display traditional handicrafts and artefacts. Products, such as lacquer ware, dyed textiles and ceramic ware, are artefacts of our predecessors' lives, and it may be said that they are part of a Japanese culture with which we have daily contact. The exhibition introduces manufacturing processes and design types, from the raw materials, parts, manufacturing techniques and partially processed items, to completed goods. The exhibits clearly show the big picture of Japan's traditional artefacts, proud of a wealth of design representations incomparable to anything else in this world.
Criminal Materials Department - Law and People, Crime and Punishment
The Iron Virgin of Nuremberg Old Japanese edict boards
Based on the founding ethos of "Rights, Liberty", this exhibition is of crime-related materials.
In the "Japan's Crime and Punishment" exhibition, there is a chronological display of a variety of historical laws.
In the "Culprits of the Edo Period", "Torture and Tribunal", "Execution and Correction" and "A Wealth of Criminal History" exhibitions, there are real artefacts that recount a history of suppressed human rights, including the devices used to catch criminals of Edo, and tools of torture and execution from Japan and other countries. In particular the guillotine and the Iron Maiden of Nuremberg are exhibits unique in Japan.
Through this type of criminological history, it is hoped visitors will be able to experience the world of crime and punishment, and gain a deeper appreciation of human dignity.
Archaeology Department - Humankind and History
Stone axe Jomon ware
Archaeology is the study of looking at humankind's past and recreating the transitions of lifestyle and culture. It is for this reason that archaeologists dig for relics and collect materials to restore the past. Since the inauguration of the Archaeology major in the School of Arts and Letters, Meiji University has conducted research and surveys on relics from the Paleolithic era to the Kofun (tumulus) period. As part of these efforts, at present there are exhibits from archaeological finds of four designated important cultural assets from the Iwajuku site in Gunma Prefecture, the Sunagawa site in Saitama Prefecture, Natsujima shell mounds in Kanagawa Prefecture and the Izuruhara site in Tochigi Prefecture.
For over fifty years, the Archaeological Department has compiled, documented and publicly exhibited the achievements of these kinds of research and surveys. The exhibition can perhaps be described as important materials that have stimulated Japan's post-war archaeology.