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

Practical work on surface cleaning

 “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 December 2nd to 6th, 2019. 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 workshops is to facilitate the preservation and utilization of urushi objects in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop focuses on the fundamental knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling urushi objects, and six conservators from Western countries participated.
 The topics of lecture included the chemical properties of urushi, the multi-layered structure of urushi objects and typical decoration techniques, degradation and damage, and appropriate storage environments. The practical work on applying urushi to wooden substrates helped the participants understand the characteristics of urushi. In addition, the case studies on the conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were introduced, and Japanese conservation ethics and techniques were shared. The participants also experienced applying remedial treatment to urushi objects, such as temporary stabilization of damaged areas and surface cleaning. In the question-and-answer session on the last day, the deterioration and damage of urushi-coated surfaces and their treatments were actively discussed.
 We hope that introducing basic knowledge about urushi objects as well as materials and techniques used for their conservation to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and the further utilization of urushi objects overseas.

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