|■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
A meeting of the Institute Survey and Research Division of the Evaluation Committee of an independent administrative institution, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, was held at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo on April 21. In addition, the general assembly of that committee was held at the Tokyo National Museum on June 3. The former is a session in which the Evaluation Committee members comment on the self-evaluation of the activities conducted in fiscal year 2009 by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and Nara. And the latter is a session in which feedback is given on the overall activities, including the surveys, research, and finances of the Institutes. A total of 41 activities are targeted for the self-evaluation of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. According to this self-evaluation, the Institute judged that the annual plans for fiscal year 2009 were fully achieved for all activities, and sufficient results were shown, so the mid-term plans are being achieved. The Evaluation Committee members gave the following comments about the activities of both the Tokyo and Nara Institutes:
1. Both Institutes have achieved sufficient results in the fundamental research on cultural properties including the research on intangible cultural heritage, and the advanced and developmental research on conservation and restoration, thereby contributing to national administration for cultural properties.
2. The Institutes are energetically involved in international cooperation for the protection of cultural properties in East Asian areas and West Asia. The Institute researchers are requested to make efforts so that the fruits of their activities are widely made known to the people of Japan and partner countries.
3. Individual investigation research projects have produced many excellent results, and they should be made known to people in a way that is easier for the general public to understand and also in an integrally summarized manner.
4. The researchers are requested to actively tackle research transcending sections or genres, research that is collaboratively conducted by both the Tokyo and Nara Institutes, joint research of cultural property institutes and museums, and research making use of the characteristics of independent administrative institutions.
We also received a great number of other opinions. We will use the results of the self-evaluation and opinions of the Evaluation Committee members in planning future activities and improving corporative management.
Mr. Sato Tamotsu and Mizubasho (Skunk Cabbage) Mandala presented on 22nd Chikyukai exhibition (1978)
The Department of Research Programming received a donation of part of the materials owned by Mr. Sato Tamotsu, a Japanese-style painter, who died in 2004, from his wife Ms. Kiyoko. He broke new ground in postwar Japanese-style painting with his series of Mizubasho (Skunk cabbage) Mandala paintings that abstractly express skunk cabbages using bold circular arcs with sumi (Indian ink) lines. The donated materials include art journals and catalogs of the art group Chikyukai he set up with his colleagues in 1957 and various art groups. They have been delivered to the Institute, and we will organize the precious materials of postwar Japanese art so that they can be browsed and utilized.
Listening at the survey on important intangible cultural property at the inheriting hall (Ms. Han Sang Soo, an important intangible cultural property holder in embroidery)
Mr. Hyoki of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage visited the Division of Folklore and Folklife of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea from June 28 to July 8. His visit was in the framework of exchange between Japan and Korea on research related to conserving intangible cultural heritage. He received training on how to protect intangible cultural heritage in South Korea. In the past two years, training sessions and surveying had been conducted on the status of archiving the records on intangible cultural heritage in Korea. This year, we investigated the way the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea is performing intensive data management on the recordings produced by the relevant organizations. We also examined the guidelines on creating standard data of cultural property recording projects. We carried out our investigations by listening to the people involved. We also conducted a survey on the current status and issues of the inheriting instructor system that is a feature of the system for protecting intangible cultural properties in Korea. We listened to the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea and the holder of intangible cultural property (conservation society of Pilbong peasant music).
Lecture at seminar meeting
Observing many glues
The Technical Standard Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar with the title Glue – (I) at a meeting room of the Institute on June 21 (Monday). There are many kinds of glue materials, and glues are traditional adhesives that have been widely used throughout the ages all over the world including Japan. At present the production of traditional Japanese glue (nikawa) is rare and there are many unclear points regarding its current status, including its physical properties. Against this background, Ms. Hayakawa Noriko, a researcher of the Center, outlined the physical properties of glues as restoration materials. This was followed by a speech given by Ms. Yamamoto Noriko of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures on the subject how to use glues for restoration and conservation from her viewpoint as a restoration engineer. Mr. Seki Izuru, professor of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, gave a lecture on the achievements of studies on materials from his standpoint as a painter. Finally, Mr. Morita Tsuneyuki, the professor of the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, who once interviewed on the production of glues when he was a professor at the National Museum Ethnology, Osaka, gave an explanation on the glue production processes with documents. The lecturers’ speeches were persuasive because they were on subjects that the lecturers had studied throughout their long carriers; we also had an opportunity to observe many types of glue brought to the meeting room by Professor Seki Izuru, making the seminar a great success.
Lecture by Mr. Mabuchi, a visiting researcher
On June 21, we held the training course shown above, intended to transfer the latest knowledge and findings related to the conservation environment to trainees who have completed the seminar course for curators engaged in conservation. First, Mr. Yoshida, a senior researcher of the Institute, introduced the latest technological trends regarding white LEDs, which have recently seen a rapid increase in their popularity, from the viewpoint of preventing global warming. Then, Ms. Nishida Hiroko, the Deputy Director of the Nezu Museum, gave a lecture during which she brought some LEDs into the exhibition room, taking advantage of the construction of the museum. Following the lecture, Mr. Mabuchi Hajime, a visiting researcher of the Center, gave a lecture on the method of conducting microbial surveys in cultural facilities, which is his subject of research, and Ms. Sano, the head of the conservation science section, explained how to examine organic acid emitted from wood. Because the lectures for this training session covered topics that many cultural facilities have deep concerns about, approximately 100 people participated, more than in past years. At annual follow-up training sessions we will meet the needs of curators and provide them with the latest important information.
IPM practical training
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been continuing to cooperate in the technical support project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to establish and operate the Conservation Center in Egypt, an affiliated organization of the Grand Egyptian Museum.
As part of this project, three Japanese conservation specialists were dispatched to the local site from May 14 to 22, and IPM training took place at the Conservation Center. IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management, and it indicates here integrated management for preventing harmful organisms from damaging cultural properties. Before this training, the staff of the Conservation Center had little idea about IPM, but its concept has led to the continuous management activities of Egyptian staff such as their own monitoring after training. On June 14, the opening ceremony of the Conservation Center took place with the attendance of Ms. Susan Mubarak, the first lady of Egypt. There are currently more than 120 Center employees and restoration specialists, and a further increase in this number is being examined. Thousands of relics have already been brought to the Center, and restoration and conservation work has started gradually. We will continuously move forward with effective cooperation in capacity development that is suitable for the various levels of the individual specialists, aiming for full-scale operation of the Center in the future.
Entire view of Goreme National Park
Restored El Nazar Church
In the framework of the Cooperative Project for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in West Asia, from June 19 to 29, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted a basic survey on the mural paintings of cave churches scattered around Cappadocia, Turkey, for which international conservation and restoration support is planned.
We investigated the conservation status of approximately 20 sites, such as cave churches with mural paintings done from the 9th to the 13th centuries, around the Goreme National Park, Cavusin, Zelve Valley, and Ortahisar area. Together with the local conservation specialists and the international conservation experts invited by UNESCO, we investigated not only the mural paintings but also the rocks and geological conditions of the caves where they were painted, discussed the future monitoring methods, and gave some advice on future conservation and restoration.
Forming new support
Mounting mural painting fragment on support
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the eighth mission for Conservation and Restoration of Mural Painting Fragments in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. This was part of an exchange program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, from May 16 to June 22. The mural paintings were originally stable since they were on the walls of a building. Exhibiting them in a museum requires support in place of the wall surfaces. In the 8th mission, we decreased the weight of the support and also tried not to place any burden on the mural painting fragments when mounting them. The Tajik trainees mounted two mural painting fragments, excavated from the Buddhist temple ruins of the Kofir kara site, on the supports, following the instructions of Japanese restoration specialists, and exhibited them in a museum. The Tajik trainees actively tackled the task of forming new supports and mounting the mural painting fragments.
In the 9th mission, we will mount the mural painting fragments excavated from the Kara-i Kahkaha I site. During the period of this next mission, we will also hold a workshop on mounting mural painting fragments.
The above meeting (ICC) was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from June 8 to 9, and activity reports were given by specialists in various fields from Cambodia and other countries who work around the Angkor Site. Our Institute reported on its investigation on the influence of plants on stones at the Ta Nei site.
Recently, ICC has been concerned with how the ambient environment and plants are related to the deterioration of stones, but they are understood in an extremely simple manner, i.e., the idea that “no trees at site must be cut down since that will cause the stones to deteriorate”. A rush to obtain results may lead to conservation processes being conducted based only on the track records of researchers’ home countries. We ended the presentation by pointing out the need to conduct long-term investigations at local sites for such an issue that is closely associated with the environment, and gain the understanding of teams from other countries that are conducting similar investigations.