It was announced this week that the British Museum would be collaborating with The National Art Center (Roppongi, Tokyo) and the Organization for the Promotion of Manga and Anime to host the world’s largest manga exhibit outside of Japan. The exhibit will be held between May 23 through August 26, 2019, and will be a part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture, a series of cross-cultural events set to be held in both countries.
The British Museum has recently changed the header of their Twitter profile to an image of Asirpa from Golden Kamuy and has stated that the exhibition will explore the phenomenon of manga:
“Manga is a visual narrative art form that has become a multimedia global phenomenon, telling stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds.
Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.” – The British Museum
It’s particularly interesting that the British Museum is seeking to explore not just manga as an art form, but also its effect on global fandom. There’s a habit within mainstream coverage to portray things like games, manga, and anime as something bizarre as some sort of “Here’s what the kids are into these days” messaging, but The British Museum’s perspective is remarkably respectful.
The curator of the exhibition is Nicole Rousmaniere, the curator of Japanese Art in the Department of Asia, Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at the University of East Anglia. In a recent episode of The British Museum’s web-series, “Curator’s Corner”, Rousmaniere spoke about the place manga has at the museum.
“The British Museum is not so much about the object itself, it’s about the hand that made that object. It’s about what those objects tell us about the culture. It’s about what we can communicate through these objects. People, when they’re looking at this, what do they see? What do they read? And what does it tell us? And manga is a particularly powerful form, because it is so visually graphic.”
As manga delves further into the mainstream and becomes more popular outside of Japan, these sort of respectful interpretations of very welcome and seem to build upon the appreciation fans already have for the medium.