“Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects” in Cologne, Germany

Practical work on applying urushi

 The Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects was held at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany, from November 26th to 30th, 2018. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted the annual workshops with the cooperation of the Museum since 2007. The aim of the workshop is to preserve and utilize urushi objects (lacquerware) in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop was the basic course focusing on the knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling the urushi objects, and six conservators attended from several countries around the world.
 The lectures included the chemical structure and properties of urushi, the structure and decorations of urushi objects, the typical damages and degradation, and the appropriate storage environment. Case studies on conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were also introduced, and principles of restoration and processes of applied treatments were explained. The practical work on applying urushi to the wooden spoons helped the participants to understand the characteristics of urushi more clearly. Furthermore, the participants experienced the remedial treatment of an urushi object such as stabilizing the damaged areas and cleaning the surface. The ways of selecting and making of tools used in conservation were also explained. On the last day of the workshop, various topics, for example, the differences on conservation ethics and principles between the East and the West and the possible application of knowledge and techniques acquired in this workshop were discussed.
 It is hoped that introducing the fundamental knowledge and Japanese conservation techniques of urushi objects to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and utilization of the urushi objects overseas.

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