Montana State University

Japanese anthropologist lectures on designing museum exhibits for all on Feb. 27

February 6, 2014

Japanese anthropologist Kojiro Hirose, who is visually disabled, will talk about his experience designing museum exhibits that can appeal to all visitors, including those who are disabled in some way, at a lecture set at 5 p.m. Feb. 27 at. 121 Wilson Hall. His lecture is a Year of Engaged Leadership event. Photo courtesy of Kojiro Hirose.   High-Res Available

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Kojiro Hirose, a professor at the Graduate University of Advanced Studies and the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan, and a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, will present, “The World through Touch: Creating a Museum Everyone Can Enjoy” at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, in 1-121 Wilson Hall at Montana State University. 

Hirose, who is visually disabled, will lecture about his work as an organizer of various exhibitions of “tactile culture” at Japan's National Museum of Ethnology, and his efforts to make museums accessible for everyone.

In March 2012, Hirose's Touch the World: Widen Your Perspective" was exhibited in the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan. The space, located in the Information Zone where lots of visitors drop in, is not large, but allowed visitors to touch ethnic materials from various parts of the world.

Hirose now advocates depth of experience gained by "touching" exhibits. In his lecture, Hirose will explain "tactile learning," the fundamental concept of the "Touch the World" exhibit, as well as his own experience as a blind anthropologist.

Hirose completed his Ph.D. in literature at Kyoto University in 2000. His research interests include the history of new religions in modern Japan, including Oomotokyo and Reiyukai, focusing on the welfare work of each religious society.

Since he assumed a post at National Museum of Ethnology, Hirose has worked on the practical study and the prevalence of “tactile exhibits,” making use of his situation of being visually disabled. Rather than building simply a barrier-free museum for the disabled, his intent was developing a “universal museum,” which everyone can enjoy.  His study had a huge impact on the inside and outside of the museum.

Hirose's advocacy for a universal museum has attracted international attention. He has been invited to lecture in the U.S., Germany and other countries.

Hirose’s publications include: “The Richness of Touch: The Paradoxical Meanings of Disability in Japanese Culture” in the East Asian Library Journal of Princeton University, and "Reconsidering Japanese Religious History: the Aum Incident and Blind Culture in Modern Japan,"which was published in The Journal of the International Institute of the University of Michigan.

Hirose's lecture is sponsored by the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The lecture is a Year of Engaged Leadership event.

Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Tomomi Yamaguchi at or 994-7288. 

For more information about this and other The Year of Engaged Leadership events, please visit


Tomomi Yamaguchi (406) 994-7288,