Amazing Displays at the National Science Museum in Ueno Park
21 May, 2009 Thursday
At the rate I'm going about Japan's attention to detail and model-making, I'll end up as the ambassador they never knew they had! The National Science Museum in Ueno Park changes nothing in my view.
It's by far another of my highlights to Tokyo and anyone who enjoys looking at exhibitions of natural history will feel the same. Curiously, its unlike either the London or Hong Kong science museums which dedicate themselves more to physics, but much rather combines science with nature.
About the National Science Museum
The National Science Museum is a sprawling, multistorey place split between the physically-separate Japan Gallery and the Global Gallery. We actually started with the current Special Exhibition full of dinosaur bones in the basement of the Global gallery before we entered the main museum and discovered even more dinosaurs later.
The exhibition was called the "Dinosaurs of Gondwana" and you can see some of the exhibits in the below:
The Japan Gallery Exhibits
Beginning a proper exploration of the main National Science Museum, we started with the Japan Gallery, subtitled as 'The Environment on the Japanese Islands'.
The Japan Gallery building spans an easy to scale three floors, each of which we could walk from north to south. The exhibits illustrated the nature, history and evolution of the Japanese Islands and how the modern Japanese population was formed.
Microscopes and other technical instruments on the first floor drew on our expectations for revealing techniques in observing nature.
Japanese People and Nature
As we moved up, the second floor exhibit of 'Japanese People and Nature' included a genius empty display for visitors to step into for photographs.
Have a look at this video below to see more of this floor:
The third and top floor of the Japan Gallery introduced the 'Nature of the Japanese Islands' and the superb models and specimens of sealife did not disappoint, neither did the interior design and lighting.
Check this video of some mammals on display here below:
The Japan Gallery Building
The Japan Gallery building itself was an interesting feature to complement the exhibits. It has a unique Neo-Renaissance style that harbours the (cross) shape of an airplane - the symbol of the state-of-the-art technology in the early Showa Era, when the building was constructed.
The Global Gallery
The Global Gallery was a more intense exploration, spanning six floors, three above ground and three below, although we had already covered two thirds of the ground level in the Special Exhibition. The remaining third was home to more dinosaur skeletons in an exhibit titled 'Evolution of Life - Solving the Mysteries of the Dinosaurs'. This video below shows some of the exhibits on display:
'Progress in Science and Technology' and 'The Natural World' explored topics expected of a Science museum, covering some curious-looking mechanical inventions, areas of science, experiments in physics and the universe no less!
However, my personal interests lie more in the natural sciences and the remaining three floors were superb!
The Natural Sciences
The top floor grouped the 'Animals of the Earth' together in one massive composition of bird and mammal specimens. You can see a small part of it in the photos below.
The 'Evolution of Life - From the Earth's Origin through Human Existence' hung massively long skeletons of sea creatures from the ceiling in one area, whilst composing schools of fish specimens in another.
A third area of this floor contain exhibits of human evolution, some parts of which can be seen in this video below:
Finally, the 'Biodiversity' floor was a marvel of exhibition design splitting the floor space into several environments. I couldn't stop looking up and around at the 'Tree of Life', which combined imaginative displays of specimens and information with a full-size trunk.
Even more awe-inspiring was the Marine Biodiversity scene at the opposite end of the floor, which presented a whole host of sea life specimens in a single, superbly-lit, half-circle display case.
The rooftop at the Natural Science Museum was also accessible to visitors and hosted a small Herb Garden and a Parasol area. The views on one side show a little of the Tokyo cityscape together with a view of Ueno station's train tracks, as seen in this video below: