Conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure (with focus on the conservation of paintings)
With regard to the conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, it was decided in 2005, from the point of view of prevention of damage due to microorganisms, to temporarily dismantle the stone chamber and to remove the paintings for restoration. Discussions were held concerning various issues such as the method for dismantling the stone chamber and transporting the stones, method for treating the mural paintings and the stones, and the construction of a restoration facility. From April 2007, the work of dismantling the stone chamber, transporting the stones to the restoration facility and the restoration of the paintings started. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is involved in this project for the conservation of the mural paintings especially from the aspects of environmental control, biological measures and restoration of the paintings. In this month’s report, measures taken with regard to the paintings will be introduced.
Various influences that may occur to the paintings when transporting the stones from the tumulus to the restoration facility were discussed in detail.
The surface of the paintings is first reinforced by using cellulose derivatives and/or protected by using a special type of paper. Once transported to the Temporary Restoration Facility built for the purpose, the stones are cleaned in the preparation room to remove dirt and grime from the surface. Although the environment inside the facility is in a condition not favorable for fungal growth, sterilization with ethanol is also done. Once cleaning is completed, the stones are taken to their respective positions within the restoration room. Main work of the restoration of the paintings begins after the stones have been moved into the restoration room. Presently, paper applied for protection is carefully being removed. The painting surface is being carefully observed and ways of cleaning the painting surface and methods of restoration are being discussed.
As of May 31, 7 stones have been moved into the Temporary Restoration Facility and are waiting full-scale restoration.