Museum Exhibitions as Imaginative Experiences (Lecture by Prof. Leslie BEDFORD) - Tokyo College

Museum Exhibitions as Imaginative Experiences (Lecture by Prof. Leslie BEDFORD)

2024.04.17 @ 10:30 – 12:00
Museum Exhibitions as Imaginative Experiences (Lecture by Prof. Leslie BEDFORD)
Zoom Webinar
Date(s) Wednesday, 17 April 2024, 10:30-12:00 JST

Zoom Webinar (Registration here)

Registration Pre-registration required
Language English (Japanese simultaneous translation available)

To paraphrase the late Stephen Weil, museums should not be about something but for someone. This is the foundational principle of today’s visitor-centered museum practice. A more recent perspective argues that exhibitions,  while typically considered educational media,  have the potential to be works of art; that is, not only in the objects they display but in the ways in which they are both created and also experienced by the visitor.  This vision requires the developers, curators, designers, that is, the entire team, to respect and engage with visitors’ imaginations––somatically, emotionally, and cognitively.


One of the most effective strategies is storytelling, another is incorporating objects that through their very specificity will resonate with a diversity of people, a third is metaphor, a fourth appropriate technology. The potential for meaningful experience is enormous if lamentably not always achieved.


Leslie Bedford  is a longtime museum practitioner, teacher, and scholar; her book, The Art of Museum Exhibitions: How Imagination and Story Create Aesthetic Experiences, was published in 2014. She will discuss these ideas citing examples from exhibitions around the globe. In recent years, inspired by visits to the Abu Dhabi Louvre and elsewhere she has begun to think about how museum exhibitions might contribute to a stronger sense of commonality and community, a challenge of urgency in the United States.  She is looking forward to visiting museums in Japan and sharing ideas with colleagues.




(Tokyo College Professor, The University of Tokyo. Former director of Museum Leadership Master’s Program at Bank Street College of Education, former director and curator of Comprehensive Japan Program, Boston Children’s Museum)


Michael FACIUS (Associate Professor, Tokyo College, The University of Tokyo) 


TERADA Yuki (Project Assistant Professor, Tokyo College, The University of Tokyo) 

Speaker Profile

Leslie Bedford is a graduate of Vassar College, Harvard University Graduate School of Education and Union Institute and University where she received her PhD. Her several honors include Senior Fulbright Research Fellowships to Japan and Argentina,  a  Getty Museum Residential Fellowship, and the John D. Thayer III Award for Significant Contribution to the Advancement of US-Japan Friendship.


She has worked as staff and consultant to a varity of museums  and led the Museum Leadership Master’s Program at Bank Street College of Education for thirteen years. In addition to her book, she has published numerous articles and given talks all over the world.


Dr. Bedford is making her l0th or more visit to Japan––she has lost count– a country she admires enormously. After the year as Fulbright Scholar in Tokyo, she returned to the Children’s Museum in Boston. As director and curator of its Comprehensive Japan Program she created a bi-cultural team, with many members in Tokyo, to develop a major and very popular exhibition.  Teen Tokyo was designed to teach American young people about Japanese popular culture––including the first showings of Miyazaki anime in the States! After that exhilarating  experience, she became Associate Director for Programs at the Brooklyn Historical Society and, as a consultant, developed the traveling exhibition called Choosing to Participate––that is, choosing to step outside one’s personal “circle of obligation” to help others––for the national educational organization, Facing History and Ourselves.


She lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, also a Tokyo Program Scholar.  They are looking forward to welcoming their two adult children and four grandchildren to a place they see as a second home.  

Organized by Tokyo College, The University of Tokyo

Upcoming Events

Fortifying Digital Frontiers: Navigating the Cybersecurity Journey of Saudi Arabia (Lecture by Prof. Muhammad KHURRAM KHAN)

イベント予定共催/Joint Event講演会/Lecture

Monday, 24 April 2024, 15:30-17:00 JST

This lecture explores Saudi Arabia’s dedication to strengthening its ICT infrastructure to protect businesses and individuals from cyber threats. The discussion includes the Kingdom’s initiatives to reassess its cybersecurity capabilities, its investments in a vision of a digitally secure economy, and a strategic framework to position itself as not only a regional leader but also a global pioneer in collective cybersecurity.

Bringing Dark Heritage to Light: Monuments to Wartime Foreign Laborers in Japan (Lecture by Prof. Andrew GORDON)


Friday, 26 April 2024, 14:00-15:30 JST

Monuments mourning the deaths of wartime foreign laborers bring to mind two meanings of the term “dark” in relation to heritage: the commemoration of tragic episodes in history and the importance of little known, nearly hidden monuments to this history. What messages are conveyed at these doubly dark locations?

Conscience and Complexity (Lecture by Prof. Alexander R. GALLOWAY)


Tuesday, 7 May 2024, 10:00-11:00 am JST

Complexity questions the duality of existence, favoring multiplicity over singularity. In philosophy, Leibniz and Deleuze explored this intricacy. Mathematicians like Cantor, Gödel, and Turing delineated the boundaries of rationality. Freud and Lacan proposed the psyche's autonomy and symbolic realm. This ongoing discourse reaffirms metaphysics' relevance in contemporary thought, highlighting a preference for complexity.

What is a Global Historian’s Archive? (Lecture by Prof. Martin DUSINBERRE)


Friday, 10 May 2024, 10:30-12:00 JST

This lecture follows the Yamashiro-maru steamship across Asian and Pacific waters, innovatively reconstructing the lives of migrants who left Japan for work in Hawai'i, Southeast Asia and Australia in the late-nineteenth century. These stories bring together transpacific historiographies of settler colonialism, labour history and resource extraction in new ways. Drawing on an unconventional and deeply material archive, the lecture addresses key questions of method and authorial positionality in the writing of global history.

Thinking through Permafrost (Lecture by Prof. Sabine DULLIN)


Tuesday, 14 May, 2024, 16:30-18:00 JST

In this lecture, Prof. Dullin will discuss how Permafrost was invented as a scientific issue, while also being a natural and meaningful ground for the native communities living on it. Then, she will show how Permafrost took, at the turn of the 21st century, a political meaning in the search for sovereignty in different Arctic substates, such as Yakutia.

The Putative Unity of the West: On Anthropological Difference (Lecture by Prof. SAKAI Naoki)


Friday, 17 May 2024, 14:00-15:30 pm JST

The modern world's international landscape is shaped by an investment in anthropological difference since the emergence of "Europe" in the early modern era. This difference, distinguishing humanitas from anthropos, is anticipatory, guiding humanity's path as a regulative idea rather than a factual norm. It consolidates dichotomies such as Europe/Asia, West/Rest, and white/colored, fostering intricate affiliations. This lecture delves into the identity politics of whiteness, where individuals invest in European culture, Western civilization, and a race devoid of color. However, true belonging remains putative, only realized through contrast with the non-European, non-Western, and non-white.

Central Banks in the 21st Century (Lecture by Prof. Luiz Awazu PEREIRA DA SILVA)


Wednesday, May 29th, 2024, 15:00-16:30 JST

Central banks, and central bankers, stand at a crossroads. They face five major forks in the 21st century requiring careful reflection: (1) the re-emergence of inflation and uncertainties; (2) climate change; (3) inequality; (4) digital financial innovation; and (5) artificial intelligence. Modern central banks have always strengthened their analytical thinking when facing challenges in the past, balancing risks properly and choosing the best path. Now, these new issues imply that central banks will have to carefully identify and analyze their challenging implications.

The Salon ー Conversations with Prominent Professors at the University of Tokyo (Season 2)


Every Friday from June 7, 2024 (Available from 17:00 JST)

“The Salon” is a new dialogue series featuring distinguished scholars in the humanities at the University of Tokyo that aims to transcend disciplinary boundaries. It is hosted by Professor Naoko Shimazu of Tokyo College.The conversations occur over a cup of coffee. We invite you to listen to an informal discussion between experts in different fields, as if you are sitting next to them.This is a chance to see a new side of our guests that you have never seen before.

Previous Events

The Question of Despotism in the Reception of Montesquieu’s De l’Esprit des lois in Japan and China (Lecture by Prof. Anne CHENG)

イベント予定共催/Joint Event講演会/Lecture

Thursday, 18 April 2024, 14:00-16:00 JST

One of the most famous quotes from Montesquieu’s De l’Esprit des lois is: “China is thus a despotic state of which the principle is fear”. Before jumping to hasty conclusions driven by the present context, I suggest that we should start with delving into the history of the reception of Montesquieu’s thought and most famous work first in Meiji Japan, and then in late imperial China.

Why the Destruction of Property Rights is Necessary (Lecture by Prof. Frank UPHAM)


Monday, 15 April 2024, 17:00-18:30 JST

The World Bank, the American government, and virtually all scholars agree that “Property rights are at the heart of the incentive structure of market economies” and that a “free and robust market can thrive only where property rights are accorded respect.” Drawing on empirical reality, I argue the reverse: that property rights must be destroyed for rapid economic growth and to realize the social benefits that growth can provide.

Gandhi and the Regime of (Human) Rights (Lecture by Prof. Vinay LAL)


Monday, 25 March 2024, 05:30-7:00 pm JST

This talk traces the evolution of the idea of "rights" in the West and the notion of rights-talk, and then discusses Gandhi's thinking on rights, his philosophical, ethical, and political reservations about the idea of rights, and his anticipation of the Anthropocene.

International Women’s Day Event: A Conversation with Akutagawa Prize-winning Author MURATA Sayaka


Monday, 18 March 2024, 17:00-18:30 JST

To celebrate International Women’s Day this March, Tokyo College’s “Gender, Sexuality & Identity” collaborative research group will host a special webinar event with MURATA Sayaka, author and winner of the 155th Akutagawa Prize for her novel ”Convenience Store Woman” (2016). Through discussing Murata’s writing, experiences, and inspirations, the event hopes to generate reflection on society’s gender and sexuality “norms” and how they shape our world.

Wild Pedagogies: Planetary Boundaries and Perils of a Globalizing Status Quo (Lecture by Prof. Bob JICKLING)


Monday, March 11th, 2024 15:30-17:00 JST

Education is a necessary partner in addressing global sustainability challenges. Wild Pedagogies aim to re-examine human relationships with places, landscapes, nature, non-human beings, and planetary boundaries. They foreground nature as a teacher and challenge globalizing trends towards increased control over pedagogy. Wild Pedagogies are offered to all—parents, students, community educators, teachers, academics, business leaders, policymakers, wilderness guides, and more—who wish to expand their horizons and are curious about the potential of wilder practices.