Kingdom of Characters – a trip to The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities

Last Saturday I decided to be cultural by visiting the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Östasiatiska museet). The museum is located at the beautiful Skeppsholmen in Stockholm and as the name implies the focus of the museum is on East Asia. I thought that it would be a good time to visit the museum because the museum currently have an exhibition called “Japan: Kingdom of Characters” where famous Japanese characters from the 50’s to present time are displayed. As my younger sister adores Hello Kitty it was a good excuse to forget science for a while in favor of reviving childhood memories.

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Main entrance

Once I arrived at the museum I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed. The exhibition that I came to see was not very impressive. Only a small portion at one end of the museum was dedicated to the exhibition. At the exhibition they had statues of famous Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty, Namisuke, Mobile Suit Gundam, Ultraman, Sento-Kun, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Pikachu. Posters were hanging on the walls with pictures of famous animated characters from different time periods, which was quite interesting. TV screens showing animated Japanese movies. At one corner there was a bedroom on display decorated with Hello Kitty merchandise. This was the whole exhibition, not very impressive.

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Ultraman and Sento-Kun

However, I didn’t go to the museum in vain. Luckily there were other exhibitions on display that are worth visiting, especially if you have never visited similar museums before. The main focus of the museum is on Chinese history. Many interesting objects from ancient China were on display. One object that caught my eye was a skeleton of a Chinese man that was discovered by the Swedish archeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson (founder of the museum) during the early 1900s while he was working as an advisor for the Chinese government. This was a rather interesting object since it was a complete skeleton. Also it made me think back when I, as a young child/teenager, dreamt of becoming an archeologist for at least a decade. But that’s a different story.

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Chinese man

In addition to China, they also had exhibitions about ancient Japan and Korea, but those were much smaller. The museum also has a section where children can play and do various activities like painting, drawing manga characters etc. Furthermore, below the museum there is an underground area for special exhibitions. One such exhibition was during 2010/11 when the museum had an exhibition about the Terracotta army. The underground area was closed when I visited the museum.

In summary the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities is a nice museum. It’s small but cozy. The Kingdom of Characters exhibition was not very impressive but since there are other exhibitions at the museum it is worth a visit if you have never visited similar museums before.

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