The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) held its 83rd World Library and Information Congress from August 19 to 25, 2017 in Wroclaw, a city in western Poland. IFLA, founded in 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland, is an international organization for libraries and a member of the International Committee of the Blue Shield. Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, IFLA has approximately 1,400 member institutions from over 140 countries, and holds an annual world congress. At this year’s world congress, 248 sessions, including conferences, meetings and workshops, took place based on various topics and types of libraries such as national, academic and public libraries. As the first delegate from the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, I, Tomoko Emura from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, participated in the Congress, joining workshops and meetings on art libraries and other topics relevant to our archives to share information and network with other participants from around the world. A session for the Art Libraries Section, Discovering Art and Architecture: Open-Access Tools for Art History Research, was held in the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw on August 22, where four speakers from the Netherlands, Italy, the United States and Hungary presented various measures to expand the sharing of art-related documents and research materials to facilitate further studies. Ms. Kathleen Salomon from the Getty Research Institute explained, in her presentation titled A Virtual Library for Art History: The Getty Research Portal, that the Portal added our institute to the list of contributors in May this year and now provides access to digitized copies of the magazines and exhibition catalogues from the Meiji era owned by our institute. She also explained that other rare books in non-English languages are widely accessible from the Portal. Having seen no other participants from Japan or other Asian countries in the Art Libraries Section or the standing committee, I received the impression that international initiatives on art-related documents and materials are led by people in the U.S. and Europe, but also found that many Japanese artworks and documents are owned by institutions all over the world. Further, I realized that our institute would be able to play an instrumental role in supporting research activities and promoting a better understanding of Japanese culture more widely around the world by providing archive functions and information more effectively to the international community. Our challenge for the future is to foster international cooperation while maintaining our specialized expertise at a sufficient level.
|■Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties||■Center for Conservation Science|
|■Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems||■Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation|
|■Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage|
Numerous Japanese artworks can be found in European and American collections overseas. However, there are few conservators of these artworks overseas, and many of them cannot be shown to the public since they have not been properly conserved. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to properly conserve and exhibit these works. For three days from February 28th, 2017, KATO Masato, EMURA Tomoko and Won Hee Jae of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited and surveyed eleven Japanese paintings of nine works in the Grassi Museum for Ethnology in Leipzig.
This museum houses around 200,000 pieces of fine art and craft, as well as folk materials, collected throughout the world except Europe. Of course, Japanese paintings, the historical value of which is high, are also included, such as the works previously owned by Dr. Heinrich Botho Scheube, who came to Japan as a foreign specialist employed by the government in the Meiji era, and paintings from Japan with a history of having been exhibited at the Third Paris International Exposition in 1878. The existence of these Japanese paintings has not been well known so far, but some are important works from the perspective of art history. Providing information obtained from this survey for the persons in charge of this museum, we expect it will be utilized for the appropriate conservation and management of these works. Based on the outcomes of this survey, we will proceed with the project by selecting the ones to be restored through consultation while considering the evaluation of the works in art history and the urgency of their restoration needs.
Exhibition at the entrance lobby; Selected Conservation Techniques -techniques to conserve cultural properties using Urushi (lacquer)
The entrance lobby of the Institute on the 1st floor is used to introduce the results of research and projects. This time, the survey by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is being publicized. The Center has conducted a survey on the Selected Conservation Techniques since 2014, in order to gather the information on each technique, its process, and the present problems. As a result of the survey, a calendar and a survey report have been published to share the information with the related organizations. This exhibition focuses on the Selected Conservation Techniques related to Urushi. Urushi trees used to be grown throughout Japan. However, as the amount of Urushi imported from overseas increased, the low price foreign Urushi spread out in Japan and today, the domestic Urushi accounts for only a few percent among all the Urushi distributed in Japan. In addition, since the whole Urushi industry declined due to the change of lives, the conservation and restoration of cultural properties using Urushi are facing a serious crisis. Makie, a decorative technique of Urushi, is an artifact that represents Japan, and there are a large number of Urushi objects kept in museums both within and outside Japan. We believe it is the duty of the Japanese to inherit the conservation and restoration techniques relating to Urushi. Today, several techniques related to Urushi are selected as the Selected Conservation Techniques by the Government; the technique to make the tools for tapping, the technique to tap the sap, the technique to refine the sap, the technique to make the filtrating paper and the technique to make the brushes for coating and Makie. The bearer or conservation body of each Technique is recognized under the Law. Every technique is highly specialized that needs to be surveyed and documented to disseminate information as well as to recognize the present issue on passing down these techniques. We hope this exhibition promotes the understanding of the techniques, materials and tools for the production and conservation of Urushi.
A number of Japanese artworks can be found in European and American collections overseas. However, there are few conservators of these artworks overseas, and many of these works cannot be shown to the public since they have not been properly conserved. Thus the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to properly conserve and exhibit these works. For three days from February 8th to 10th, 2016, EMURA Tomoko and ODA Momoko of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited and surveyed Japanese paintings in the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Ms. YAMAMOTO Noriko, Executive Director of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures, participated in this survey. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, established in 1883, is one of the largest museums in the United States and has over 54000 artworks from all over the world. Together with the curator of Asian Art, Dr. John Tadao Teramoto, and the senior conservator of paper, Ms. Claire L. Hoevel, we conducted our survey of 7 works of Japanese painting (11 objects total) that have some condition problems. The information gleaned from this survey will be shared with the staff of the museum so that these works can be conserved and managed. The artworks will be assessed in terms of art history, and based on the results of the survey, works in need of urgent conservation will be identified and candidates will be selected for conservation under the cooperative program.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been carrying out surveys of the selected preservation techniques that are indispensable for preservation of cultural properties. In this endeavor, a hearing survey on working processes, situation surrounding the work, and work-related social environment has been conducted targeting possessors and possessing groups of the selected preservation techniques and also photographing/recording of actual work sites and tools used for the work have been promoted. As a part of efforts to disclose the result of and disseminate information about this survey, the 2016 calendar for overseas was produced (available in two types: desk calendar and wall calendar). This calendar is titled “Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties,” in which, based on the surveys that were carried out in FY2014 and FY2015, the following production techniques were introduced; metal ornaments, Tatara Iron Works, Japanese swords, ridge-end tiles, cypress bark roofs, handmade ramie threads, original yarns for Japanese musical instrument, Showa Village Karamushi-ori (ramie weaving), bark of hemp stalks, lacquer-tapping tools, Assam indigo, and shuttles for weaving. All the pictures were taken by Seiji SHIRONO who is a specialist staff member of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. In the pictures, the right moment to clearly show the characteristics of the material and technique has been captured, producing optimal optical effects. The explanatory texts are written both in English and in Japanese. Copies of the calendar are delivered to foreign government ministries/agencies concerned with cultural properties in hopes to further deepen understanding among overseas people of Japanese culture and techniques to conserve cultural properties.
A survey of Selected Conservation Techniques: Tapping Urushi and Manufacture of Tools for Tapping Urushi
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducts surveys of Selected Conservation Techniques and disseminates them overseas as traditional techniques protecting and supporting the cultural properties in Japan. In September 2015, we researched tapping Urushi and the manufacture of tools for tapping Urushi.
Urushi (Japanese lacquer) trees used to be grown throughout the country for tapping. However, due to an increase in the number of relatively inexpensive Urushi produced overseas, the domestically produced Urushi available in Japan now accounts for only a few percent. The largest production area in Japan is Joboji Town, Ninohe City, Iwate Prefecture and its neighboring areas. From the beginning of the rainy season to autumn, around twenty skilled tappers annually collect Urushi from the trees. The conservation, handing-down and utilization of the techniques are being promoted mainly by the Japan Association for the Techniques to Tap Urushi.
Uniquely shaped sickles, knife, spatulas and other tools are used for tapping Urushi. Their main parts are made from metal, and these tools are specially produced for tapping Urushi. Mr. Fumitoshi Nakahata, who holds Selected Conservation Techniques to manufacture of tools for tapping Urushi, produces each tool by fine-tuning it according to the technical features of each tapper. Handing down the skills and techniques required for the manufacture of tools for topping Urushi is indispensable for the production and utilization of Urushi produced in Japan.
The outcomes achieved in this survey will be finalized as a report, while the photos taken as visual data will be utilized as calendars for overseas.
Survey on the Selected Conservation Techniques – Silk thread for strings of traditional Japanese instrument, Cypress bark roof, and Ramies in Showa Village
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducts surveys on the Selected Conservation Techniques and disseminates information about them to overseas as traditional techniques preserving and supporting Japanese cultural properties. In July 2015, we conducted surveys on the production of Silk thread for strings of traditional Japanese instrument, Cypress bark roof and Ramies in Showa Village.
Shamisen and koto are traditional Japanese musical instruments, and indispensable for presenting Japanese traditional performing art such as Bunraku and Kabuki. Strings made of synthetic fibers are also used nowadays, however those made of silk are said to have the best tone. It goes without saying that such strings support the play and sounds of the instruments. With the help of Association for Silk Thread for Strings of Traditional Japanese Musical Instruments, Kinomoto, in Shiga Prefecture, we conducted a survey on the process of zaguri (spinning silkworm cocoons into a thread). In recent years, the domestic sericultural industry has been declining, so the handing down of traditional techniques to later generations is becoming an important issue.
The cypress bark gathered from a standing tree has been traditionally used for roofing, and the technique has been used to build traditional temples and shrines. As such roof needs to be reroofed periodically, it is important to ensure good quality materials and to hand the technique down to later generations. Following a survey on the gathering of cypress bark conducted in October last year, we conducted a survey on the roofing at the Shotendo hall of Hozan-ji temple in Ikoma, Nara Prefecture, with the help of Tomoi Shaji Inc., a company belonging to Association for the Preservation of National Temple and Shrine Roof Construction Techniques, Inc..
Ojiya-chijimi and Echigo-jofu are textiles designated as the Important Intangible Cultural Properties under the Japanese law. These textiles are made from the ramie plant cultivated and processed in the village of Showa, Onuma District, Fukushima Prefecture. With the cooperation of Showa Village Association for Conservation of Karamushi Production Techniques and its members, we investigated the respective processes of gathering more than two-meter-high ramie plants, peeling the skin off, and extracting the fiber. Similar to other traditional craft industries, those engaged in the ramie production and processing have started to age, so training and developing successors and handing the technique down to later generations are becoming pressing issues.
The results of the survey will be compiled in a report and we plan to make a calendar for overseas users.
Surveys on Selected Conservation Techniques – Roof ornaments, Hand-spun ramie yarn in Miyako Island, Ryukyu indigo and Udagami handmade paper
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducts surveys on Selected Conservation Techniques to present their information overseas as traditional techniques to protect and support Japanese cultural properties. In June 2015, we conducted surveys on Roof ornaments, Hand-spun ramie yarn in Miyako Island, Ryukyu indigo and Udagami handmade paper.
For the tiling roof of temples and shrines, several types of tiles and ornaments are used, and it is necessary to hand down the traditional advanced skills and the techniques that can be used depending on the purpose to later generations. With the cooperation of Yamamoto Kawara Kougyou Ltd. in Ikoma District, Nara Prefecture, we surveyed the production processes of onigawara roof ornaments and other products.
In Miyako Island, there is a traditional technique to extract the fibers of ramie and hand-spin them to make ramie yarn. While it is an important technique for preserving and transferring Okinawa’s textile techniques including Miyako-Jofu designated as the Important Intangible Cultural Properties under the Japanese law, the ageing of skilled workers and training of their successors are becoming an urgent task.
Ryukyu indigo, which is also used for Miyako-Jofu textiles, is a dyestuff using a different type of indigo used in the main island of Japan, and the main production area of the material is currently limited to the Izumi area of Motobu town on the main island of Okinawa, indicating how valuable such materials are.
We also conducted a survey on the production process of traditional handmade Japanese paper using home-grown kozo plants (paper mulberry) at Fukunishi Washi Honpo in Yoshino District, Nara Prefecture. The Udagami paper of Yoshino is used mainly as the backing paper of hanging scrolls. It internationally receives high evaluation in the conservation and restoration of cultural properties such as calligraphies and paintings, and is widely used for such purposes. We will compile the results of the surveys in a report and produce a calendar for overseas.
A survey of Selected Conservation Techniques — Ornamental metalwork, gold brocade, and loom shuttles
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted surveys of Selected Conservation Techniques. The Center interviews the technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the circumstances of their work, and how societal conditions are affecting them. SHIRONO Seiji (an artificer in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems) photographed them at work, their tools, and other items. In April 2015, surveys on the making of ornamental metalwork., gold brocade, and loom shuttles were conducted in Kyoto.
MORIMOTO Yasunosuke IV, the fourth-generation director of Morimoto Traditional Ornament Metalwork Co., Ltd., showed how to make ornamental metalwork and ritual decorations for temple and shrine buildings. Making ornamental metalwork involves a series of steps from shaping copper sheets to engraving a design, gold plating, and then finishing the metalwork. These processes were observed during this survey.
At Hironobu Textiles Co., Ltd., which makes traditional textiles (such as gold brocade) for mounting, HIROSE Kenji discussed the current state of Nishijin textiles, and he showed how to make gold brocade by weaving gold thread into the weft of a fabric. A tool that is essential to weaving fabric is a loom shuttle, which is a wooden tool that is passed through a loom to weave the weft of a fabric. HASEGAWA Junichi makes loom shuttles. HASEGAWA explained the various types and uses of loom shuttles and he showed how he makes shuttles.
Cultural properties need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to make those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The results of these surveys will be compiled in a report. In addition, plans are to create a calendar for overseas countries in order to publicize Japanese cultural properties and the materials and techniques used to create and preserve those properties.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is studying Selected Conservation Techniques that must be preserved in order to preserve cultural properties. The center conducts interview surveys with the technique holders and the individuals from selected organizations, asking about their work process, the situation surrounding their work and their social environment and takes photographic records of them at work and their tools. Two versions of a 2015 calendar (a wall hanging version and a desktop version) for overseas were produced to inform the public of these efforts and provide information. The calendar is entitled Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties and it covers production of Japanese paper, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, plastering, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo, gathering Japanese cypress bark, Tatara smelting, and production of brushes for makie from among topics studied in 2014. All of the photographs were taken by SHIRONO Seiji of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. These visually stunning images capture an instant highlighting the aspects of traditional materials and techniques, and explanations of each photograph are provided in English and Japanese. The calendar will be distributed to foreign agencies and organizations dealing with cultural properties to promote of understanding of Japanese techniques to conserve cultural properties and Japanese culture.
A second investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques－Ryukyu indigo, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, and a plasterer
Following on from last month, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is continuing to investigate of Selected Conservation Techniques. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In November 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding Ryukyu indigo production in Okinawa, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking in Ehime, and a sakan (plaster work) in Tokyo were studied and recorded.
Ryukyu indigo differs from other types of indigo plants on the main island of Japan. The processes of cultivating and manufacturing Ryukyu indigo also differ substantially from those used in indigo dyeing with tade-ai (Chinese indigo). Mr. INOHA Seisho is a holder of Selected Conservation Techniques, and Mr. NAKANISHI Toshio who is carrying on INOHA’s techniques. Mr. NAKANISHI explained that recent typhoons and inclement weather have affected the growth of Ryukyu indigo. Mr. NAKANISHI also described the process of manufacturing indigo.
Ms. IHARA Keiko is a member of the National Society to Preserve Tools and Techniques Used to Produce Japanese Paper by Hand who lives in Ehime. Ms. IHARA is also certified as a traditional craftsperson by Ehime Prefecture. Ms. IHARA talked about the current state of sukisu screen production, procurement of bamboo strips and silk thread to make those screens, and the difficulty of training a successor.
The company Nakashimasakan was working at a site in Tokyo where a traditional building was being restored. Part of sakan (plaster work) done by the company was photographed. Relating sakan (plaster work), Japanese wall, National Cultural Property Wall Technical Preservation Meeting is certified as a group holder of Selected Conservation Techniques.
Cultural properties obviously need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to craft those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The research materials from this study will be compiled. In addition, plans are showcase some of these materials overseas. A calendar with visually stunning images could be used to highlight the nature of Japan’s cultural properties, how those cultural properties are created, and materials and techniques that need to be preserved.
Investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques—brushes for Makie, dyeing with true indigo, and gathering Japanese cypress bark
Cultural properties must be protected and passed on to future generations as the shared heritage of humanity. If the materials and tools for producing cultural properties, and the techniques for restoring them, are not handed down and used, it will be impossible to keep cultural properties in good condition. Japanese conservation and restoration techniques for cultural properties are recognized for their usefulness and used in practice, even outside Japan. Traditional techniques that are essential for preserving cultural properties, and must themselves be conserved, have been selected by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as Selected Conservation Techniques. Individuals and groups possessing such techniques (holders) are also certified. At present, 71 techniques have been certified, as well as 57 individual and 31 group holders.
The Japanese Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies relating to Selected Conservation Techniques, and widely disseminates information both inside and outside Japan. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In October 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding production of brushes for Makie by Mr. MURATA Shigeyuki at the Murata Kurobei Shoten in Kyoto, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo by Mr. MORI Yoshio at Konku in Shiga, and gathering of Japanese cypress bark by Mr. ONO Koji at Awaga Shrine in Hyogo. The three cases investigated were traditional, specialized techniques in three different fields (lacquer, dyeing and architecture), but the point of commonality is that all of these individuals are keeping traditions alive through intelligence and skill—working earnestly with natural materials, and coping with changes in the environment. The results obtained through these surveys will be accumulated and used as research materials on cultural properties. At the same time, by distributing media overseas such as calendars incorporating images with high visual impact, we plan to internationally disseminate information on the nature of Japanese culture, and on materials/techniques for creating and conserving cultural properties.
Research results and projects have been periodically publicized in the Institute’s entrance lobby on the 1st floor. This time, the exhibition shows materials and techniques that are indispensable to create, appreciate, restore and conserve paintings and calligraphic works. The exhibition was planned by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and all of the images were taken by SHIRONO Seiji of the Image Laboratory of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. The exhibition panel has been fashioned into a long hand scroll so that the visitors may realize that cultural properties are made with various materials and techniques The scroll is 1.15 m tall and 14 m long and it has a cover as well as a roller rod according to the Japanese traditional mounting method. Large photos depict moments that highlight the qualities of materials and techniques—such as the overlapping of paper fibers to produce a single sheet of paper, the crushing of rock and its refinement into powder for use as a bright pigment, and the methodical preparing and spreading of paste. In addition, actual samples of Washi, silk for painting, pigments, karakami and tools of conservation works are displayed in the showcases. Techniques to produce materials and conservation tools as well as techniques to restore cultural properties described in the exhibition must be preserved. In Japan, these techniques are designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties or Selected Conservation Techniques by the Japanese Government. On the other hand, techniques and materials that have been cultivated in Japan are widely known for their usefulness and are applied for the restoration of cultural properties in foreign countries. The Institute also conducts international training projects in order to encourage a correct understanding of Japanese restoration techniques and materials. We hope visitors may learn that the world’s cultural properties are being protected by Japan’s exceptional traditional techniques to hand them down to future generations.
Survey of Meiku Shoukei (Views of Famous Places) in the collection of the National Gallery of Armenia
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has continually surveyed Japanese artworks in collections overseas. However, the fact that there are Japanese artworks in collections in the Caucasus region, a region ranging from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, has only recently come to light. In November 2012, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted surveys of Japanese artworks in Armenia and Georgia and the Center determined the location of these artworks. The Center deemed that more detailed surveys were needed, so with a grant from the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research a survey was scheduled for 3 days starting on January 15, 2014. TSUDA Takako, a curator from the Nagoya City Museum, assisted the survey in regard to ukiyo-e (paintings and woodblock prints for popular consumption). Meiku Shokei in the National Gallery of Armenia (denoted here as the version in Armenia) consists of 29 prints of scenes that are each 8.1 cm high and 11.8 cm wide. As Ms. TSUDA explained, the version in Armenia is based on illustrations from the first volume of Meiku Shoukei, printed from woodblocks and published in 1847. Meiku Shoukei was done by ODAGIRI Shunko, an artist and feudal retainer of the Owari Domain. The work was done entirely by hand, from planning to painting and publishing. The work compiles kanshi (Chinese-style poems), waka (Japanese poems), and haikai (playful poems) that weresolicited from different places and that relate to scenic sites around Nagoya along with original paintings. Authors of the poems are listed at the end of the work. Compared to Meiku Shoukei in the collection of the Nagoya City Museum, the version in Armenia is a revised version of the work that includes explanations of each scene at the top of each print. The version in Armenia was apparently purchased by the National Gallery from an individual collector in 1937, though the work has remained in its collection without any information on its name, artist, or year of production. Interesting questions are how these block prints of famous places ended up in Armenia and how Japanese artworks are received overseas. Plans are to consolidate survey details into a report to help spur future research.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies and research concerning the systems for conservation of cultural properties in each country around the world. As one such project, currently it is studying the state of conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. While the U.S. is home to numerous museums of history and art and holds many of the world’s movable cultural properties, it has no government agency that specializes in the protection and management of cultural properties. Management of cultural properties is left to their owners, and management and regulation at the federal level is not very strong except in emergencies such as major natural disasters. Under these circumstances, management, restoration, and exhibition of moveable cultural properties in the U.S. is handled on an individual basis, in accordance with the management policies of each museum and with the wishes of the properties’ owners.
While thinking on cultural properties differs considerably between Japan and the U.S., at the same time the U.S. is home to numerous art museums that hold collections of Japanese art. In addition, the Center’s Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, begun in 1991, has restored more than 250 works of art at 24 art museums across the United States. Thus, the Center has close ties with American art museums. Accordingly, from January 26 through February 3, 2013 Tomoko EMURA and Asuka SAKAINO conducted a study in Washington, D.C. to ascertain in a systematic way the state of the conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. They conducted a number of interviews focusing chiefly on key organizations conducting comprehensive activities to protect cultural properties, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, the Library of Congress, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)/Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the nonprofit Heritage Preservation. They also studied the state of management of the collections of history and art museums. In particular, they learned about the collection management rules and the state of restoration of works at the Freer Gallery of Art. America’s oldest national art museum, the Freer Gallery opened in 1923 and holds numerous works of art from East Asia, including Japan.
This study showed that one of the reasons cultural properties in the U.S. are conserved appropriately despite the lack of strict regulations is because of cooperation among individual organizations and personnel along with effective functioning of bottom-up decision-making. Future plans call for advancing more practical study and research looking at the history museums playing central roles in each region of the U.S. and at museums holding works of Japanese art.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation surveys Japanese artworks in collections of art museums overseas and it provides those institutions with advice and information on relevant research. The Center also conducts cooperative conservation programs for artworks that urgently or desperately need to be conserved. In countries far removed from Japan where the climate, environment, racial makeup, and religion differ considerably, seeing the state of Japanese artworks instills in one the vitality of cultural properties, despite their fragile composition. In November 2012, KAWANOBE Wataru, KATO Masato, and EMURA Tomoko surveyed Japanese artworks in the Republic of Armenia and Georgia. Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union, and 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of their establishing diplomatic relations with Japan. However, this survey was the first on-site survey of Japanese art by personnel from the Institute.
Japanese artworks in the History Museum of Armenia, the National Gallery of Armenia, and the Charents House-Museum were surveyed. These museums have ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints from the late Edo Period and early modern to modern craftworks. That said, some of the works are not properly identified since their title or date of production is unclear. The Center provided advice and information regarding these works. Additionally, the state of conservation of cultural properties in the Matenadaran (the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts) and the National Library was also studied.
In Georgia, Japanese artworks primarily in the National Museum were surveyed. The National Museum has armaments from the Edo Period, such as armor and swords, as well as Japanese artworks like ukiyo-e paintings, pottery, and textiles. The museum was found to have 2 silk hanging scrolls, “Carps” by TACHIHARA Kyosho (1786–1840), a painter from the late Edo Period, and “Mt. Fuji” by TAKASHIMA Hokkai (1850–1931), a painter active during the Meiji Period. Both works have been damaged by time and need extensive restoration. The first step, however, is to gather detailed information about these artworks and then coordinate the future programs with the museum staff.
Investigative Photography of the “Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven” owned by -Kimbell Art Museum during Restoration
We have been performing restoration on the “Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven” (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, United States) since 2011 as Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. This is a pair of hanging scrolls, color on silk thought to have been executed in the 14th century. All of the bodhisattvas are gold-painted and, delicate decrative pattern of gold foil applied to them, but the paintings have begun to appear dark due to the filth of aging, and a problem for conservation arose from the glue becoming loose all over the place. During this restoration, we are going to dismantle the scrolls and renew the mountaining . At present, the removal of the old first lining paper of the light scroll compretely. We can verify the ink lines of the underlying sketch and the backside coloring by looking at the other side of the silk , and we took color and near-infrared photographs to perform the required investigation for its restoration. The bodhisattvas are presented with noble features when looking at the surface of the work, but we could confirm the existence of an excellent underlying sketch with calm expressions throughout the entire work because of the gentle line drawing on the backside in comparison to the quite solid line drawing on the surface by verifying it with a near-infrared image. In addition, we were able to confirm that the backside coloring was applied as a traditional Buddhist painting colored with white and green paints from the backside of the silk canvas. These types of images can only be verified when doing a dismantling repair. We could proceed with an even safer restoration by recording both surface and the backside of the work with high-resolution pictures, and we will utilize these images as research materials in the future. We would like to continue future work while increasing consultations with the curator of the museum that own Japanese cultural properties.
In 2010, the Institute concluded a memorandum of understanding on cooperative research and exchanges with the Guimet Museum in France, and the Institute has implemented joint projects such as lectures and restoration programs. The Guimet Museum of Asian Art began with the collection of Lyon industrialist Émile Guimet (1836～1918). Today, the Museum has about 11,000 Japanese artworks in its collection and is considered one of the world’s leading Oriental art museums. The Museum has one of the world’s oldest Japanese art collections, and its collection includes a number of works with significance in terms of art history. Some of these works are in great need of restoration due to the passage of time. As Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, artworks of the Guimet Museum that included 5 paintings, i.e. Buddhist hanging scrolls and picture scrolls, and 1 piece of lacquerware were restored from 1997 to 2005. Consistently curating and exhibiting artworks in good condition is crucial to introducing Japanese culture and history overseas. With the cooperation of Hélène Bayou, the Museum’s chief curator of Japanese art, 3 Institute personnel—Wataru KAWANOBE, Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and Masato KATO and Tomoko EMURA, both of whom are senior researchers at the Center—surveyed a dozen or so paintings from the perspectives of restoration and art history on May 25, 2012. In the future, the Institute will conduct more in-depth surveys and provide further consultations regarding artwork restoration and encourage cooperative research and exchanges.
The year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry blossom trees to the US. To commemorate the occasion, a variety of Japan-US exchange programs took place in conjunction with the yearly National Cherry Blossom Festival. Large exhibitions of Japanese art were put on by the National Gallery and the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. under titles such as Colorful Realm (ITO Jakuchu: The Sakyamuni Triptych and The Colorful Realm of Living Beings), Hokusai: 36 views of Mt. Fuji (KATSUSHIKA Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji), and Masters of Mercy (KANO Kazunobu: Zojoji Temple’s The Fiver Hundred Arhats). In conjunction with these exhibitions, the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) hosted an international symposium on The Artist in Edo on April 13th and 14th. The symposium featured presentations by 13 Japanese art history researchers from Japan, the US, and Europe. Tomoko EMURA gave a presentation entitled “Classicism, Subject Matter, and Artistic Status—In the Work of Ogata Kōrin.” The symposium allowed presentations of research results to the global community, it facilitated exchanges with researchers from around the world, and it helped to further understanding of the Institute’s research efforts. The CASVA plans to publish a report based on the symposium’s presentations in 2014.
Interim Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research meeting held on R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data: Passing on the Views of Art Historians
On December 20th, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held an interim meeting on a study funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research entitled R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data: Passing on the Views of Art Historians (principal researcher: Atsushi Tanaka). The Institute is a repository for materials used in its previous projects and reports, photos, and other items donated by the families of former Institute officers. The Department is encouraging the preservation and utilization of these items as research materials. The Department is also encouraging the study and utilization of related materials that had been overlooked in previous art history research. The materials include items that are easily categorized and stored, like printed publications, as well as handwritten notes and sketches, handouts from meetings and conferences, 35-mm slides, and 16-mm film. Organizing these items is difficult, and such items are treated less than reverentially by organizations such as art museums, museums, libraries, and universities. Such items are also extremely rare. The study on R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data was scheduled to last 4 years starting in 2009, and this year marks the third year of the study. Members of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems and visiting researchers have divvied up the voluminous materials and are organizing them and converting them into digital formats. The interim meeting described which materials were assigned to certain individuals in certain categories, to wit:
EMURA Tomoko is studying Kogabiko (Notes on Old Paintings) during the Showa Period: Using the Papers of TANAKA Ichimatsu in Future Research, SARAI Mai is studying the Papers of KUNO Takeshi, MIKAMI Yutaka (Wako University, visiting researcher in the Department) is studying Documents on Modern Art: Assembling Art Gallery Circulars and Catalogs and Topics for the Future, NAKANO Teruo (visiting researcher) is studying the Papers of YANAGISAWA Taka, WATADA Minoru is studying the Papers of TANAKA Sukeich, and TANAKA Atsushi is studying the Papers of TANAKA Toshio.
There are various databases for each category of material, preventing a full archiving of these cultural properties. To resolve this problem, basic data from the papers of TANAKA Ichimatsu, KUNO Takeshi, and UMEZU Jiro were integrated into a database of books, exhibition catalogs, art journals, original photos, and other items currently in use at the Institute. A simulation was performed with the resulting database (about 635,000 records in total). The database allows simultaneous searches of research materials in various formats and it highlights multiple trends in research. The database will provide new directions for specialized archives. Numerous issues must be dealt with so that the database can serve as a more accurate information-gathering tool, but hopes are to create an archive of cultural properties that can be utilized in various fields of study.