Our favorite history museums use more than just collections of artifacts to tell a story—their architecture also speaks volumes. Japanese architecture studio Furuichi and Associates recently completed one such example with the Miyahata Jōmon Museum, an institution dedicated to the study and exhibition of prehistoric Japanese hunter-gatherer society. Located in Fukushimashi, the museum features an impressive origami-like timber ceiling that evokes a cavernous feel inspired by the Jōmon people’s use of caves as shelter.
Starting from 12,000 BCE to around 300 BC, Japan’s Jōmon period was characterized by hunter-gatherer culture and the beginnings of pottery making as their society moved to a more sedentary lifestyle. The museum focuses on the Jōmon people who lived in the northeast of Japan and faces some significant Jōmon ruins excavated in Miyahata, Fukushima Prefecture. While the Jōmon people initially lived in caves, they later built their own villages with dome-like homes that still “[followed] the images of caves.”
Inspired by the Jōmon history, the architects topped the entrance hall with a sculptural arched roof with jagged wooden ceiling protrusions to give the space a cavernous feel. In contrast to the eye-catching timber roof, the rest of the nearly 1,150-square-meter museum was built with exposed concrete, dark tiles, and glass that expose portions of rock and earth. “There have been many significant finds and studies related to the Jomon people over the past 20 years,” write the architects. “To accommodate the research, investigation, exhibition and educational needs of these studies, a museum became necessary.”
Images via Furuichi and Associates, by Shigeo Ogawa