Marunouchi: Museum
Intermediatheque: Marunouchi
Marunouchi / Museum
Open 11am-6pm (Thu, Fri 8pm; entry until 30 minutes before closing). Closed Mondays.
Free admission
Average visit time: 20-40 minutes

The Marunouchi district is teeming with smart new shopping-dining-office complexes, but Kitte ("postage stamp"), brought to you by the Japanese Postal Service, is the only one with its own natural-history museum. Or is it a contemporary art gallery? Whichever, this slickly produced two-story facility is worth checking out, and admission is free of charge.

Interdisciplinary experimentation is the goal here, and the museum's impressive collection of hundreds of taxidermied birds and animal skeletons is recontextualized as a "revival of historical heritage within the contemporary urban cityscape." In other words, it's like visiting a really old museum, except it's new and in a shopping mall.

Specimens are neatly arrayed in century-old wooden cabinets, and shelves are crowded with glass-topped display cases, apothecary jars and leather-bound books. Off in one corner is a life-size recreation of a late 19th-century university lecture room. Some natural-history highlights include skeletons of a minke whale and an enormous Elephant Bird, a now-extinct species that was once the heaviest bird in existence.

You'll also find stuffed rabbits and foxes, turtles large and small, beetles and butterflies, miniature models of cows, boxes of seashells, rocks and fossils, and jars of medicinal plants. Other galleries contain Egyptian mummies, Japanese archeological finds, and old coins.

There's science-inspired art as well - the "Age of Discovery of the Solar System" features greyish-brown paintings depicting imagined planetary surfaces, and there are some nice Audubon bird prints. Large-format photographs in one room document the design, construction and eventual demolition of the historic Tokyo Central Post Office, which occupied this site until very recently.

Future special exhibitions will be devoted to contemporary scientific research and artistic expression. Original goods, such as framed, old-fashioned prints of insect specimens (Y60,000) and stylish graphic arts magazines, can be purchased in the museum's boutique.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-7-2, JP Tower 2/3F.
cۂ̓2-7-2 JP Tower 2/3F
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