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


Workshop on the HERIe Digital Preventive Conservation Platform

Home page of HERIe website
Professor Łukasz Bratasz giving a lecture
Lecture by Dr. Michal Lukomski
Scene from the workshop

 A workshop on “Sustainable Risk Management for Collection in Museum, Utilization of HERIe Digital Preventive Conservation Platform” was held jointly by the Department of Conservation of the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the Tokyo University of the Arts, the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), on December 17, 2023.

 The HERIe Digital Preventive Conservation Platform (https://herie.pl/Home/Info) is designed to support the collaboration between museum curators and conservation professionals when assessing the conservation conditions and safety of collections for display. It is a decision-making support platform that provides a quantitative assessment of risks to collections. At the moment, it includes modules that address environmental degradation factors such as air pollutants, lighting, inappropriate temperature, and relative humidity, and modules that allow estimation of fire hazards. The platform is being developed by several institutions with financial support from the European Commission and the Getty Conservation Institute.

 The purpose of this workshop was to give museum conservators and restoration professionals experience with the use of the data of their own museums on the platform. It was a very good opportunity to invite teachers from overseas who are among the developers of this platform to hear directly about its effectiveness and how to use it, and to try it out in a classroom. As an introduction, Prof. Łukasz Bratasz of the Polish Academy of Sciences introduced the platform and explained the concept and structure, and introduced the topic of pollutants and chemical degradation in museums and galleries. Next, Dr. Michał Łukomski of the Getty Conservation Institute talked about modelling mechanical damage and using the tool to assess museum climates. Prof. Boris Pretzel (Invited Professor of Conservation Science at Tokyo University of the Arts) introduced the topic of the light degradation tool and the presentations finished with Prof. Bratasz explaining the tool for fire risk assessment. Other tools, such as the showcase tool, were also introduced and demonstrated during the day, giving all delegates a good introduction of the kind of information each tool can provide.

 Many of the participants commented that they had deepened their understanding of the platform, with remarks such as that they wanted to return to the museum and use it because they learned about a very useful tool, and that they wanted to use it to assess light damage when they brought their collection to the restoration studio.

 Since this platform is provided free of charge, we hope that it will be widely used both by those who participated, and those who could not participate in the workshop.


2023 Training Course for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation (Advanced Course)

Lecture on air conditioning
Lecture on outdoor materials
Practical training for identification of cultural property pests
Tour of the laboratories

 The “Training Course for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation (Advanced Course) in 2023” was held from July 10 to 14, 2023. This training course, which has been held at the Institute since 1984, was reorganized into a “Basic Course” and an “Advanced Course” in 2021, with the aim of enabling curators in charge of conservation at museums to acquire a wide range of knowledge and skills necessary for their work, from basic to advanced.
The “Basic Course” is designed to provide curators in charge of the conservation of materials at museums with a wide range of knowledge and skills, from the basics to the practical. The course focuses on the conservation environment and is conducted by the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties.
The “Advanced Course” covers not only the conservation environment, but also general conservation of cultural properties, and is conducted by the Center for Conservation Science. In the 2023 Advanced Course, lectures and practical training based on research results in various research fields were conducted by the Center for Conservation Science, and lectures on the conservation and restoration of various cultural properties were provided by external lecturers. On the first day, a tour of the center was conducted. The themes of the lectures and practical training were as follows:

・Theory of restoration of cultural properties
・Scientific investigation of cultural properties
・Air quality (about air quality / effects of air pollution on cultural properties / concepts of air quality improvement and ventilation)
・Theory and practice of storage environment (air conditioning)
・Introduction and practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for cultural properties
・Types and characteristics of restoration materials
・Deterioration and conservation of outdoor materials
・Protection of heritage of modernization
・Conservation and restoration of various cultural properties (rescue of cultural properties / environmental management of temporary storage facilities / daily cultural heritage disaster prevention in museums)
・Disaster prevention in museums
・Conservation and restoration of folk artifacts
・Preservation of large volumes of documents, and countermeasures against deterioration
・Conservation and restoration of works on paper
・Preservation and management of photographs

 A post-training questionnaire indicated a high level of satisfaction throughout the training. Some participants commented that they were able to gain practical knowledge in a systematic manner and that they were stimulated by learning about cutting-edge research. On the other hand, we also received some comments that they would like more time for training and some requested future follow-up. We will continue to review the content of the training to ensure that it is beneficial to curators in charge of conservation.
Last year, due to restrictions imposed for protection from the spread of COVID-19, the number of participants was only 18, but this year there were 30 participants, as the infection situation had calmed down somewhat.
Although the participants come from a wide variety of institutions, they all share similar concerns and awareness of the problems they face in the field, and we believe that the exchange of ideas and opinions among the participants is very meaningful. We hope that the networking that participants were able to take part in during this training will also be useful in the future.


Air Quality Investigation in the Museum Display Cases

Injecting nitrogen into the bag set in the display case
Extracting the air from the bag using a pump

 The Center for Conservation Science investigates the conservation environments of museums. Recently, the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History requested us to investigate the air quality in their exhibition cases. They detected some organic acids, however, the emission source was not identified. The emission source was needed for taking appropriate counter-measures. Moreover, the ratio of acetic acid and formic acid is called for as the current measurement was taking them collectively as organic acids.

 Therefore, the Preventive Conservation and the Analytical Science Sections decided to investigate the emission source by applying the air quality investigation methods developed by the Analytical Science Section. Five points including the floors of two wall display cases (big and small size), the display surface of a tabletop case, the display stand, and the back panel, were targeted. As shown in the photos, the targeted measurement points were covered with bags made of airtight film and the 4.5 kg lead rings were set to seal them. Then, after replacing the air inside the bags with nitrogen and leaving them for 24 hours, the air was extracted from the bags using a pump, dissolved in ultrapure water, and analyzed using ion chromatography. Consequently, we measured the amount of acetic acid and formic acid emissions. Simultaneously, we checked the sealing degree by the measurement of CO2 density change inside bags over time.

 We have identified the density of acetic acid and formic acid at each measurement point and will leverage these outcomes for future air quality improvement.


2022 Training for Museum Curators in charge of Conservation (Advanced Course)

Visiting the Analytical Science Section
Lecture on conservation of Modern Cultural Heritage

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) held the “2022 Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation (Advanced Course)” for five days, from July 4 to July 8, 2022.

 This training is an application version of the trainings for museum curators in charge of conservation, which were held from 1984 to 2020 for curators in charge of material conservation to master basic knowledge and techniques necessary for environmental management, evaluation, and improvement.

 From 2021, we reorganized the training into two courses: 1) basic course, focusing on conservation of environment by the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties, and 2) advanced course, focusing on curators who attended the course before and/or who have similar experiences, by TOBUNKEN.

 We provided lectures and workshops mainly based on research outcomes of each research area of the Center for Conservation Science, along with lectures from external lecturers related to various conservation and restoration in the advanced course. We are pleased to have organized face-to-face training with 18 participants, with thorough prevention measures for COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the participants made their networks there.

 Based on questionnaires after the training, we understand that the participants were well satisfied. We could know their voices: “I will try various techniques from this training in our museum,” “I could review my understandings and obtain new knowledges. It was very beneficial for me,” and “It was a very useful week for me.” Henceforth, we will work to provide more useful training to curators in charge of conservation.


The Third Seminar on the Survey and Management of Conservation Environment: Chemical Substance Absorbent for Air Cleaning

Seminar in the meeting room

 A series of seminar on the survey and management of conservation environment is organized annually, targeting the curators in charge of conservation for materials in museums and researchers engaged in conservation of cultural properties. These seminars aim to share common understanding on the surveys, assessment methods and improvement of conservation environment, and materials and tools for safe storage. The first and second seminars were organized by the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP) and the third was held with a co-sponsorship of CPCP and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN.)

 In the first seminar, titled the Survey and Assessment of Air Environment Using Kitagawa Detection Tubes, usage and appropriate assessment methods of Kitagawa detection tubes, which were widely used for quantitative analysis of chemicals in the air in the exhibition and storage rooms, were explained. In the second seminar, titled Neutral Papers as Materials Used for Document Conservation, the scientific character of paper, characteristics and standards of neutral paper, and appropriate usages of conservation containers made of neutral paper were explained with hands-on practice. Neutral paper is widely used as a material to create document conservation containers in storage and stack rooms.

 The theme of the third seminar was chemical substance absorbent. Recently, concerns about chemical substance emission from the building and interior materials and its impact on the documents, as well as methods to improve the situation have attracted people’s attention. However, we are still exploring the best possible ways to clean the air in exhibition and storage rooms. Therefore, we invite a company that develops chemical substance absorbent to explain methods of selecting appropriate chemical substance absorbent, as well as the adsorption phenomena, principle and structure of absorbent, and environmental factors related to adsorption efficiency.

 We conducted this seminar with eight participants in person and distributed it online for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 infection. A total of 30 people participated in the seminar. Participants provided their opinions on the usefulness of the seminar because they could learn from the principle to the practice, stating, “I could well understand the types and mechanisms of gas adsorption,” and “as I understood the principle of gas adsorption and measurement methods, it would get easier to assume the solutions.”

 We plan to continue the seminars by setting themes that are necessary for daily practices, from the viewpoint of conservation science.


2021 Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation (advanced course)

Lecture on the Types and Characteristics of Restoration Materials
A Visit in Pest Control Practical Training

 During a five-day period of July 5–9, 2021, we held the 2021 Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation (advanced course). Last year, we held this training jointly with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties. In order to clarify the content of the training and to make it more beneficial for museum curators in charge of conservation, this fiscal year, we decided to divide the training into the “Basic Course,” implemented by the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties, and the “Advanced Course,” implemented by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been implementing intensive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we thoroughly conducted temperature inspections, sanitization, and mask-wearing policies during the training.
Each laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science led the training on a one- or half-day basis, providing lectures and practical training in accordance with their respective specialties. Since advance-level courses are offered to people who have already received training for curators in charge of the conservation of museums, most of the attendees had an awareness of the issues and challenges faced by their own museums. On the last day, a lecture on disaster prevention and the mitigation of damage to cultural properties was given in light of recent natural disasters. This was a valuable opportunity to consider how to deal with and implement measures against natural disasters in museums, as well as the roles of the institutions in disaster prevention with regard to cultural properties.
 In questionnaires, many participants stated that the training was helpful, such as by increasing the knowledge and skills that would be helpful in carrying out their work in the future.
 This was the first time the training was held as an advanced course, but since the issues of the training have been clarified, we would like to improve it next year and in the future.


A Seminar Organized on “Exhibition Environments for Conservation and Utilization” Relationships between Lighting, Colors, and How One Looks

A scene of the seminar

 As part of a research project titled “Exhibition Environments for Conservation and Utilization” by the Center for Conservation Science, a seminar on “Exhibition Environments for Conservation and Utilization” – Relationships between Lighting, Colors, and How One Looks was organized to sum up research on lighting on March 4th, 2021. Reports on cases that put emphasis on ideal lighting for exhibitions at art and other museums while taking into account conservation of cultural properties had been predominant up until then. This time around, however, we asked experts in the area of lighting, which had not been taken up very much in the area of cultural properties, to share their insights into lighting with us from a perspective that was a little different from conservation.
 First of all, Ms. SANO Chie, an honorary researcher at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TBUNKEN), who had taken the initiative in this project, gave a lecture on the flow of research into lighting at the Center for Conservation Science as an introduction. This was followed by lectures that covered a broad range of subjects delivered respectively by Prof. MIZOKAMI Yoko (Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University), who specializes in vision science, vision engineering, visual information processing, and color dynamics, Prof. YOSHIZAWA Nozomu (Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science), who studies evaluation techniques for architectural light environments, and Prof. YAMAUCHI Yasuki (Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Yamagata University), who carries out research on visual information processing, color dynamics, illuminating engineering, and image processing.
 As a state of emergency was issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the seating capacity was limited to up to 30 in the seminar room, whose seating capacity is normally 120, but a face-to-face seminar proved extremely productive. Participants commented that the lectures delivered on a face-to-face basis were meaningful and that they were able to deepen their understanding of lighting, indicating that the seminar had a high satisfaction level. Meanwhile, we announced this seminar by limiting the recipients to art and other museums etc. in and around the Kanto region to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thus, we decided to record the seminar and publish it on TOBUNKEN’s YouTube channel for a limited period of time. Let us encourage those who were unable to participate in the seminar in person to view it on this occasion.
You can view it from May 10th through July 30th, 2021 at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQp68KyNvVQ


2020 Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation

Lecture on measures against biodeterioration
Lecture on scientific research on cultural properties

 The abovementioned training was held from October 5th to October 15th, 2020. Although we have received many applications, the training was provided to 17 curators and others (or half the usual number) as a measure against the spread of COVID-19. Starting from last year, the training is implemented jointly with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP). The CPCP took charge of the training sessions in the first week and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) in the second week. During the training, various control measures were thoroughly implemented to prevent the spread of infection: body temperature checking, sanitizing, and avoidance of the “3C’s.” Moreover, the participants wore gloves during hands-on training sessions. Furthermore, training materials were distributed to each trainee.
 During the first week when the CPCP was in charge, participants learned the basics of the conservation environment through classroom lectures. In addition, reports were made on the instruction and advice regarding the “Virus Removal and Disinfection Work at Museums, etc.” addressed jointly by three organizations, namely the Agency for Cultural Affairs, CPCP, and TNRICP. During the second week, certain sections at the Center for Conservation Science provided separate half-day sessions and provided classroom lectures and practical workshops with a variety of topics such as the concept of conservation and restoration of cultural properties, the method of addressing on-site issues with the application of basic natural science knowledge, and other topics. Participants appreciated these sessions, commenting that they were informative and useful. On the last day of the training, Dr. KOUZUMA, Director of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center established in October 2020, was invited to give a lecture on the “Disaster Risk Management of Museums,” which turned out to be a valuable occasion to think about the role played by museums in protecting cultural properties from disasters.
 We will keep working to provide better trainings to suit the needs of the time in 2021.


The Consultation Desk for Virus Removal and Disinfection Work at Museums to Deal with the Novel Coronavirus Infection

 In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection spread all over the world. On April 7, the Japanese government issued a state of emergency to seven prefectures, and on April 16, they expanded the target areas to all prefectures. Facilities possessing cultural properties also found it necessary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection and then they encountered the concerns about the impact disinfection might cause to cultural properties. The Agency for Cultural Affairs issued an administrative contact on April 23, “Regarding the measures for virus removal and disinfection work to be taken by cultural property owners and administrators of facilities for the conservation and public display of cultural properties.”
 The Agency warned the departments responsible for cultural properties across the country that disinfecting chemicals could cause deterioration of cultural properties, therefore some cases would require cautions in using those chemicals; and when any department faced the necessity of engaging in disinfection work for cultural properties and needed professional advice, it should consult the Agency beforehand. They asked the following three organizations — the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties, and the Center for Conservation Science of Tokyo Cultural Properties Research Institute — to cooperate and provide the service as the consultation desk to respond to the situation. Our Institute has posted on its website that it is available to accept technical consultations regarding disinfection. (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/info/info200424/index.html).
 So far, we have received a wide range of consultations including not only on disinfection in museums, art museums, exhibition rooms and storage of archives, but also on the disinfection of buildings as well as folk cultural properties used for festivals. In response to these consultations, our Institute has advised to minimize the usage of chemicals for disinfection and instead employ other infection prevention countermeasures. Even in cases absolutely requiring disinfection, we have advised on how to respond or on how to ventilate in the best possible manner according to each situation. Hereafter, while constantly examining the need for disinfection, we are going to keep responding to the situations as a consultation desk.


to page top