Website Review

Kyoto National Museum

Founded in 1897, the Kyoto National Museum holds a rich collection of pre-modern art and artifacts from Japan and East Asia. Offering an English-language website (also available in Chinese, Korean, French, and Spanish), the museum is accessible and user-friendly.

One can access images of the museum's holdings online through two databases. First, its "Online Database" offers a means to search and view over five thousand objects and sets within its holdings. The second means of searching is via the "KNM Gallery." This search engine 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, amongst a total of 14 categories.

While students may enjoy browsing the "KNM Gallery" collections as open exploration, searches at the "Online Database" are more immediately productive for those interested in exploring objects or images related to childhood and family. 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.) While title searches related to "child" or "children" produce relatively narrow results, broader searches and browsing can offer useful assemblies of images and objects.

A search for "child" in the title search category, for example, produces five objects while a search for "children" reveals 15. While these searches do produce interesting samples in porcelain and textiles, broader browsing strategies are more productive. For example, a path through the collection useful for information on children is "Textiles: Dolls," available as a drop-down "category" line in the search engine for the "Online Database." This search strategy offers 113 results that students could productively survey, study, and choose samples to comment upon. A teacher might find it productive to brainstorm along themes of the representation of children and family, the material composition of the dolls and imagined means of manufacture, as well as their potential uses within Japanese families and society for the historical periods represented here.

Image presentation is user-friendly and agile, including magnification that provides a closer look at detail of the objects, images, and figures. See, for example, the 19th century "Child with Fox Mask; Gosho Doll" from Japan's Edo Period that is housed under the category of textiles. The site provides basic details (country, time period, dimensions and more) and enlarging the image enables users to examine the doll's form, materials, and the particularly nice detail of its embroidered garb and puckered grin.

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.

How to Cite This Source

"Kyoto National Museum ," in Children and Youth in History, Item #417, (accessed August 10, 2021).

Founded in 1897, the Kyoto National Museum holds a rich collection of pre-modern art and artifacts from Japan and East Asia.