Matsura Historical Museum, Japan

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Matsura Historical Museum inside

The Matsura Historical Museum was founded in 1955 and is the oldest museum in Nagasaki prefecture. It is located in the old residence of the Matsura family in Hirado city from where the family ruled over the Hirado domain during the Edo period (1600-1868).

The Matsura family line traces back 41 generations and their private collection spanning many centuries now forms the main collection of the Matsura Historical Museum Foundation.

The collection contains well over 30,000 unique historical artifacts and documents. As the ruling family of the Hirado domain, the Matsura family created a large and well-kept collection of documents and items that tell the history of the region and Japan as well as show the life in the Edo period and earlier. Hirado also has a long history of overseas exchange and was Japan’s main international port at the beginning of the Edo Period. Therefore, there is also an extensive collection of pieces relating to the international trade with China, the Netherlands, Portugal and England in particular, which are on display in the other museum that the Foundation manages.

Hirado Dutch Trading Post

The Dutch VOC Trading Post was located in Hirado from 1609 to 1641, before it was moved to Nagasaki. During this period Hirado was an important centre of international trade both for the United East Indian Company (VOC) and Japan. A large stone warehouse of the Dutch Trading Post was reconstructed as close as possible to the original building using the same materials. This warehouse opened as a museum in 2011, telling the history of the international trade with Western countries. The museum is managed by the Matsura Historical Museum Foundation, which has pieces that relate to the international trade with European and Asian countries in the 16th and 17th centuries on display here.

The Matsura Historical Museum Foundation tries to actively foster links and exchange with other former VOC trading posts through the creation of the Dutch Trading Post Heritage Network as well as foster links with European institutions. The foundation has organised temporary exhibitions in Taiwan, Thai, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the past.

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