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


Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo: workshop on the conservation of paper materials

A scene from the workshop
Participants in the workshop
With Dr. Nadia Lokma, Director of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum. Between 24 and 28 February, the Center organized a conservation workshop on paper in Cairo for Egyptian conservators. A senior paper conservator, Sakamoto Masami, delivered a series of lectures on various manufacturing techniques of paper, both European and Japanese, their physical and chemical properties and characteristics. Following theoretical lectures on conservation and materials, some practical/technical sessions were delivered for long-scale preservation and mount-making as well as further conservation implementations.
 In Egypt, museums hold artifacts made of a wide range of extremely challenging materials, such as papyri and textiles. Since most of the participants at the workshop are experienced in the field of conservation as professional conservators, they made quite positive remarks concerning the workshop as a whole. It has become a very important key workshop in order to begin further cooperation with the Grand Egyptian Museum.


Field survey for conservation of Buddhist cave murals located in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China

Landscape of Simsim Grottoes and a group of conserved grottoes
Red organic coloring material found in Grotto 224 at Kizil (Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)

 As a part of a series of research projects undertaken by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, a number of important Buddhist sites with murals (i.e. Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang and Ajanta Caves of India) were surveyed from conservation and technical points of view. Xinjiang region is the east end of Central Asia and plays an important role in ancient trades between the East and West. At the Buddhist grottoes with earthen mural paintings at Bezeklik in Turfan, Kizil, Simsim, Kumtura and Kizil-Qargha in Kucha, field surveys were carried out on painting materials and techniques as well as the state of conservation in a cooperative project with NHK Enterprise Co. between 5 and 12 January, 2008. This mission was composed of 4 members from the Institute, 1 from the Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy and 1 from the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. These Buddhist cave sites are primarily made of unstable soft conglomerate or sand/silt stones, and murals are constructed on earthen plasters with various colourants using a secco techniques. Some organic red colourants, most of which had not remained due to their chemical instabilities, were fortunately observed in some murals. Further scientific diagnoses will provide invaluable information regarding the painting techniques in the context of ancient artisans along the Silk Roads.


International Cooperation in Living Heritage,”a workshop of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

A scene from the workshop
Poster session at the workshop

 “International Cooperation in Living Heritage,” a workshop organized by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (President: Hirayama Ikuo), the secretariat of which has been entrusted to the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, was held on January 9..In this workshop various topics related with international cooperation in conservation are discussed. The workshop in January, which is the second in a series of such workshops, focused on the living heritage, in other words on “heritage that is kept alive and utilized.” Over 100 experts from various disciplines participated. In the keynote lecture, Dr. Richard Engelhardt, Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific at UNESCO Bangkok, spoke on the background that led to the concept of living heritage, the importance of international cooperation in conservation that includes the local people, and the role that Japan is expected to play in conservation. Case studies were also introduced, including academic research and practical restoration projects undertaken in Vietnam by Showa Women’s University and the study on living heritage in Southeast Asia by Dr. Miura Keiko of Waseda University. In the panel discussion, topics such as what kind of problems are faced at sites, what needs to be conserved in the context of changing systems of value and how Japan can cooperate in the conservation of living heritage were discussed actively among the panelists and the audience. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage plans to hold workshops regularly in the future and to provide support in constructing a network of experts related with international cooperation in conservation.


Completion of “Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China looking at the results of works by the trainees
Photograph taken at the completion ceremony

 The “Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building that had been held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing for three months has been completed. During the course a total of 12 experts from Japan served as lecturers for 196 hours. Particularly during the last 4 weeks 2 technical experts from The Association for Conservation of National Treasures conducted classes with Chinese experts and the trainees learned the techniques for restoring books and scrolls, although it was for a short period. On December 27, Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China attended the course completion ceremony. A certificate of completion issued jointly by the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and China National Institute of Cultural Property was given to 12 trainees from 6 provinces along the Silk Road. This program will start the third year of its 5-year plan next spring. A course on ancient architecture is scheduled to be held in spring and a course on earthen heritage in autumn.

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Chinese experts visit Japan for training in the protection of stone cultural properties

Experiment with resin treatment

 The Conservation of Stone Statues at the Tomb of the Tang Dynasty Emperor in Shaanxi Province Project and the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust Conservation of the Longmen Grottoes Project, in which the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo participates, will both be in their final year in 2008. Since both have for their target cultural properties made of the same material, limestone, until now workshops, on-site investigations and trainings in Japan have been held actively for members of both projects jointly. From November 19 to December 16, 2 experts each were invited to Japan from the Xi’an Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Relics and the Longmen Academy to receive training in such matters as the restoration of stone cultural properties, evaluation methods for the effects of application of water repellant material and environmental monitoring after restoration. The results of the training are expected to be put to use in the execution of restoration work that will be conducted in the last year of the projects.

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21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation

A scene from the conference

 21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation: “Monitoring after Conservation Work” was held on December 6, 2007 with an attendance of 93 persons. Three presentations were given: Nishiura Tadateru of Kokushikan University, “Importance of Monitoring for Conservation of Remains, and Its Problems”; Nahar Cahyandaru of Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia, “Monitoring of the Borobudur Post Restoration”; and Kim Sa-Dug of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, “Long-term Plan for the Conservation of Seokguram Grotto.” The presentations were followed by discussions. Various monitoring methods used ad respective sites were introduced and information was shared among the participants. We were made to realize that in order to introduce these methods to other sites it is necessary to make wider appeals about the importance of monitoring.


Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (3)

The training of x-ray radiography for archaeological artifacts (at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

 The conservation training program, “Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad,” a UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust project for Iraqi conservators from the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, which was held for 3 months, was completed on December 12. The trainees visited Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corporation on November 13 and 14 to see its conservation laboratory of archaeological artifacts, exhibition and storage rooms and to participate in the conservation work of pottery. From November 19 to December 3, they participated in a training program on the use of various apparatuses used in conservation, such as x-ray radiography, at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. On December 10, they delivered a presentation on the current conditions of the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, and local museums in Iraq, and their activities in the conservation laboratories as well as on the trainings in Japan. It is hoped that the 4 trainees will employ what they have acquired in the training to contribute to the conservation of cultural heritages


Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts

Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (1)
Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (2)

 During the conservation missions by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, within the framework of UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust, hundreds of small fragments of bark Buddhist manuscripts were found in 2003 from caves in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. They are quite invaluable as important historical witnesses of the Buddhism that once flourished in Bamiyan. The fragments are mostly as small as a few centimetres in width and length. Many are folded, making the texts illegible and creating much difficulty for the viewers. In that sense, they are not in a form that would allow displaying them to the general public.
 In November 2007, with the financial aid of the Sumitomo Foundation, 543 pieces (at initial counting) of the fragments of Bamiyan bark manuscripts were brought to Japan for conservation treatment. On this occasion, a local conservator from Kabul National Museum was also invited to the Institute, and arrived with the fragments, for conservation training. A number of fragments were safely flattened and mounted in special frames, and then returned to Afghanistan safely with the aid of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Japan.


Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo

Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) under construction

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the GEM-CC. In November and December, members of the Center visited the GEM-CC to discuss future strategies for the project. For the time being, the Center is providing necessary technical and machinery support prior to the grand opening of the GEM-CC (April 2008) after which time it will hold some training activities, such as workshops on particular subjects in conservation.


International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

 On 30 and 31 October, 2007, an international symposium was organized by ICOMOS, UNESCO, Shaanxi Municipal People’s Government and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government. It aimed to introduce the cultural nature of the Silk Roads and to supply instruction and technical consultation for nomination of the Silk Roads to the World Heritage. The east end of this vast area targeted for this nomination was considered as Xi’an at this point; unfortunately, Nara was excluded from this Silk Roads in the nomination. From the side of Japan, it is considered quite essential to keep discussing, in the nomination process, the geographical and historical definitions of the Silk Roads.


Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor

 Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor was held at Siem Reap on November 28. 2007. Two meetings of the Committee are held annually. At the Technical Session, reports are made about the activities of various organizations engaged in the conservation and investigation of the site. The Plenary Session, however, is an occasion for holding more comprehensive discussions. At this meeting, oral presentations were limited to some of the large-scale projects. Most of the organizations submitted written reports of their activities and the proceedings of these reports were distributed.
 Although the target of this Committee is the Angkor Site, Preah Vihear site was frequently the topic of discussion at this meeting. This site is located on the border of Thailand and is an important site whose registration on next year’s World Heritage List is being considered. It has been recently decided that Thailand will cooperate in the preservation and maintenance of this site, and several other nations in the Committee are debating about setting up an International Co-ordinating Committee for this purpose. Under such circumstances nations concerned expressed their intent to participate. Although nothing concrete has been decided about Japan’s role, it is certain to be important and discussions will have to be made as to what can be done.


Attending the International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

Photograph with the major members of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

 The International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies was held on November 10 at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. The theme of this symposium was “Dunhuang Studies.” Jacques Giès of Musée Guimet, Susan Whitfield of The British Library and Samosyu Kira of The State Hermitage Museum reported on the mural paintings of Dunhuang, study of the Dunhuang documents and archives; Li Zuixiong of Dunhuang Academy spoke about the conservation and scientific study of the Dunhuang mural paintings; Okada Ken of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented a report on the Japan-China cooperative activities for the conservation of the Dunhuang mural paintings. The meeting, thus, was an extremely significant one that comprehensively covered the Dunhuang studies and the activities of experts throughout the world on related projects. Although the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies is a relatively young association which was established 14 years ago, its members include researchers who have received degrees in Japan, China and the United States and are very positive in their approach to research Collaboration with Korea, as in other conferences like the 2007 International Symposium on Conservation of Cultural Heritage in East Asia, which was held at the beginning of November at the National Museum of Korea,and the Workshop for Paper Conservation in East Asia, which is held every year and is attended by experts from Japan, China and Korea, will increase in importance from all aspects of the study and protection of cultural heritage.

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“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Practical guidance by Sakata Masayuki (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 In the capacity building program held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing, the participants began to attend classes on practical training from November. They studied under the guidance of Japanese and Chinese experts. Classes on the methods of conservation and storage of documents using recently developed neutral paper were quite unexpected but interesting for students who had expected a more restoration oriented training. Since there is some difference in the traditional restoration techniques of Japan and China, Japanese experts are continually faced with the question of how they can contribute to the conservation of “Chinese paper cultural properties.” However, rather than merely giving guidance to students, promotion of exchange of techniques between experts of the two countries is expected through such efforts.

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Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (2)

Cleaning an object after vacuum freeze drying method

 The four Iraq experts who arrived on 19 September, 2007 received several basic lectures on conservation science and practical training on conservation of wooden objects at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. They stayed in Tokyo from the end of September to the end of October and joined the practical training of conservation for waterlogged wooden objects from 29 October to 9 November at Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 At Shizuoka, the Iraqi experts experienced lifting fragile wooden objects during archaeological excavations at Sumpu site. They also studied conservation methods such as stabilization using PEG and vacuum freeze-dry method, cleaning, adhesion, and filling at the Shimizu Office of the Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 They will receive practical training on using various conservation equipments at the Institute in Nara. At the end of this training program, they will conduct a presentation of their works on 10 December, 2007 in Tokyo.


The third mission of Japan-Indonesia Cooperation Safeguarding Project of Prambanan World Heritage Site, a part of the“Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage” of the Agency for Cultural Affairs

Investigation in the upper part of Garuda Temple where dismantling has started
Members of the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation cooperates in the project to support the rehabilitation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds, a World Heritage Site, that was damaged in the earthquake which struck central Java on May 27, 2006. With the completion of the construction of the scaffolding for Garuda Temple, undertaken by Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects fund of Japan, the third mission was dispatched from October 22 to November 4, 2007. In this mission investigation centered on Garuda Temple, whose partial dismantlement has begun. In addition to checking the condition of damage of the upper part of the temple and the inner structure, documents related to past restorations were collected and studied, and interviews were held. Hangsa Temple, which is similar in structure to Garuda Temple, was chosen and monitoring by seismometer was started to elucidate the dynamic characteristics of the structure. These investigations were undertaken with the cooperation of the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta and Gadjah Mada University.
 Now geometrically modified images of each of the sides of the temple are used to indicate the condition of damage of each stone, the method of restoration and areas of dismantlement in order to prepare a detailed plan for restoration that is within a standard which will make the estimation of the cost possible. Methods for structural reinforcement based on the results of analysis of the structural characteristics of the temple will be examined and a plan for restoration will be made during this fiscal year.


“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project, begins

Lecture by Shimizu Shin'ichi, Director of the Center, on the theory of the protection of cultural properties
Introduction to Japanese paper by Oka Iwataro (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 The joint program to train Chinese personnel engaged in the protection of cultural properties along the Silk Road was held from October 8 to December 27 at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing. In the “Paper Cultural Properties” course, the training course for the second half of 2007, experts on paper cultural properties from China and Japan gave lectures. From Japan 12 experts went to China for 10 weeks to give lectures on various topics related to paper cultural properties and guidance on practical work. There were lectures not only on the traditional materials and techniques of paper cultural properties as have been clarified by modern science but also on new western methods of conservation. Efforts were made so that the 12 participants from areas along the Silk Road might acquire much knowledge and experience.

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Workshop on conservation techniques for stone cultural properties (Xi’an)

Field study at the East Gate of Qianling Tomb

 In the conservation project for the stone statues of the tombs of Tang dynasty, which has been conducted jointly with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage since 2004, a workshop is held once a year to which Chinese and Japanese experts come. This year, the fourth workshop was held at Xian from October 11 to 13. From China, researchers in charge of stone cultural properties from the Longmen Academy, with whom the Center also holds joint study on the protection of cultural heritage, participated. With the termination of projects with the institutes at Xi’an and Longmen next fiscal year close by and the restoration work entering its final stage, case studies were presented and discussions were held on the theme of “conservation techniques for stone cultural properties: methods for the conservation and exhibition of stone cultural properties – cosmetic treatment for the joints and the surface in the process of conservation” Mr. Ebisawa Takao (The Ethos), who is well experienced in the restoration of stone cultural properties, was asked to join from Japan.

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Japan-Indo Cooperative Research Project for Painting Techniques, Constituent Materials and Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Ajanta Caves in the framework of the “Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage” (funded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs)

Indian conservation specialist explains the blackened mural paintings due to darkened shellac varnish.
Members of the preliminary mission of the Institute and ASI Ajanta Field Office.

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo plans to start a cooperative project with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) aiming to share and exchange knowledge, expertise and experience on materials and techniques of conservation at Ajanta site. Prior to the project, a preliminary mission was sent to India between 25 September and 3 October 2007 in order to establish a project working plan at Ajanta and to create a common basis with ASI as a counterpart.
 The Ajanta Caves are located in a great arc cut by the curving course of the Waghora River. Approximately 30 caves were cut in the basalt cliff as Buddhist monasteries and decorated with exclusive paintings and sculptures. Most of the paintings show yellowish tint colour due to past restoration works, thick shellac varnish coatings, by Italian and Indian conservators. Various severe biological causes such as bat excrements and microbiological growth make the paintings invisible.
 This cooperative project aims to provide information concerning the manufacturing techniques and technologies as well as to challenge the establishment of suitable conservation methods and materials to these particular conservation problems at the Ajanta site.


Conservation training program for Iraqi experts

Invited Iraqi experts

 Since 2004, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting a training program for Iraqi experts to rehabilitate the conservation laboratories of the Iraq National Museum (INM). This program is a part of the Cooperation Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia and the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust project, Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad.
 In 2007, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has invited four experts between 19 September and 12 December 2007: Ms Faeza M. Jumaah (INM), Ms Taghreed H. Khudhair (INM), Mr Sinan A. Yunis (Nineveh Museum), and Mr Jamal A. A. Ismael (Nasiriyah Museum). The program focuses on the conservation of wooden objects and is conducted at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Institute in Nara and Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.


Research for the “Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage” in Central Asia

Interview on the public system for the protection of cultural heritage in Tashkent

 As a part of the study on the public system for the protection of cultural heritage, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is conducting research on the Central Asia region this year. From 9th to 16th September, a mission was dispatched to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Almaty (Kazakhstan) to conduct survey of the current situation of the public system purposing for the protection of cultural heritages in Central Asia and to prepare for the expert meeting on cultural heritage which is planned to be held in Central Asia next March. During the mission, meetings with representatives from local authorities and UNESCO were held in order to collect relevant information and conduct needs assessment.
 After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, independent Central Asian countries have been facing a wide range of issues, from public system to field work, on conservation of cultural heritage. Through this research, common concerns on cultural heritage preservation within the area have been disclosed, such as conservation and management of archaeological sites, conservation environment of artifacts and human capacity development. Moreover, it was agreed that, under cooperation with those countries, an international workshop with experts from Japan and Central Asian countries would be held in order to share information and to transfer technology.


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