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


Interview for building Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Networks

Fig.1 An interview on site
Fig.2 The freeze-drying equipment for tsunami-damaged documents

 Natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, are causing serious damage to cultural property. The National Institute for Cultural Heritage has conducted interviews with museums and prefectural offices regarding the risk management of cultural property all over Japan in order to build networks providing for disasters, because it is necessary to protect our cultural heritage and pass it on to future generations. We are in charge of Hokkaido and Tohoku areas, and conducted an interview with Tohoku University of Art and Design on September 15.
 In the university, documents that were damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been subjected to a freeze-drying process in order to dry them. We obtained information giving a detailed description of the time of the disaster in 2011. In addition, we learned about some problems and tasks on site.
 Through these interviews, we found that there were many types of risk management for cultural property in each region. We will continue to conduct interviews, and aim to build Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Networks that help people and protect our cultural property when problems arise.


Field study of treatment conditions for tsunami-damaged objects

Rikuzentakata City Museum (formerly Oide Elementary School)
Inspecting the water quality in tubs used for desalination of paper documents

 Many thousands of cultural properties were severely damaged by the tsunami that occurred following the 2011 Off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake. Although six years have passed from the disaster, treatment of the tsunami-damaged cultural properties continues in the disaster-stricken areas. In order to investigate the occurrence of volatile organic compounds, which are harmful to workers’ health, we made a contract with Rikuzentakata City and conducted a survey on the treatment methods for the tsunami-damaged cultural properties and on the working environment in the facility where treatments are conducted.
 We visited the treatment facility in the Rikuzentakata City Museum, which is located in a temporarily closed school facility in Iwate Prefecture, for on-site research in August from the 25th to 26th. Damaged folk cultural properties are bathed in water for desalination in the school yard. On the first floor, paper documents are treated for desalination in a teachers’ room and cleaned natural history specimens are classified in a classroom. Treated objects are stored separately according to each type of cultural property in the classrooms on the second floor or a temporary installed storage facility in the gymnasium.
 We were able to obtain a lot of valuable data about the air quality in the facility and water quality during treatment, helped by the cooperation of the museum staff. Temperature and humidity in the facility are continuously measured even now. By the end of this fiscal year, we plan to propose improvements after collecting data.


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