Survey of paintings in the US as part of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas

Survey underway at the Cincinnati Art Museum

 Japanese antiquities located overseas serve to introduce Japanese culture, but these items are suffering from aging and differences in weather and climate, preventing many of these works from being displayed. Thus, the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas seeks to preserve these works in a consistent state so that they can be put on display. Prior to last year, the program was a project of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, but starting this year the program is being managed by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation. From the standpoint of restoration, the program studies and repairs artwork in conjunction with art history researchers from the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. Last year, we surveyed museums in the US, Australia, and Europe with Japanese paintings in their collections in order to ascertain the latest conditions. Twenty-five institutions responded to questions regarding whether or not they had works in need of restoration and how they conserved and restored works at their institution. Based on their responses and a list with images of the works, program experts consulted the curating institution with regard to how works were viewed in terms of art history, what works needed restoration and what works needed immediate restoration, and what the institution had done in response. This year, we conducted our survey at 2 art museums in the US. On June 24, we surveyed 6 hanging scrolls and 6 folding screens at the Cincinnati Art Museum (Ohio), and on June 27, we surveyed 3 hanging scrolls and 5 folding screens at the Kimbell Art Museum (Texas). This year marked the program’s first visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum, which was founded in 1881 and is one of the oldest art museums in the US. The Cincinnati Art Museum is a major art museum in the Midwest with a collection of about 60,000 pieces. The Museum’s collection primarily contains Western art, but the Museum also has a collection of Japanese art, and many of the pieces are unknown in Japan. The study has occasioned technical exchanges, and the program will continue to encourage consultation with relevant personnel and curators.

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