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

Facility Tour,April

In the Performing Arts Studio

Four Visitors from the Office for Incorporated Administrative Agency Support, Commissioner’s Secretariat of the Agency for Cultural Affairs:

 On April 23, four visitors from the Office for Incorporated Administrative Agency Support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs visited the Institute in order to observe the Institute’s facilities.They toured the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems, the Performing Arts Studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Conservation Laboratory and the Chemistry Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, and the Archives of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation.The staff members in charge of each section explained the work they do.

Lecture by Hubert Guimet, director of the Guimet Museum


 In 2010, the Institute concluded a memorandum of understanding on cooperative research and exchanges with the Guimet Museum in France. During his visit to Japan, Hubert Guimet, a director of the Museum and great-grandson of Émile Guimet, gave a lecture at the Institute on April 5th entitled “Émile Guimet: From manufacturer of artificial ultramarine to founder of the Guimet Museum.” From the 19th to the early 20th century, Émile Guimet visited Egypt and crossed the Indian Ocean to visit various countries, including Japan. The Guimet Museum is an art museum that curates and exhibits cultural properties related to Oriental religions that Émile Guimet collected from around the world. The Museum curates a number of Buddhist artworks from Japan and is one of the foremost Oriental art museums in France.
 Émile Guimet’s father, Jean-Baptiste Guimet (1795–1871), invented a method of manufacturing artificial ultramarine in 1826. Ultramarine is a blue pigment made by pulverizing lapis lazuli collected from places like Afghanistan. In Europe at the time, ultramarine could not be obtained unless it was imported and it was so expensive that it was bought and sold at prices on par with gold. The method that Guimet invented led to the instant spread of artificial ultramarine that had been scientifically manufactured. In 1855, Guimet and Henry Merle founded the Compagnie des Produits Chimiques d’Alais et de la Camargue, forerunner of the Pechiney conglomerate. In the 1850s, the firm’s volume of production rose 100-fold from when the company was originally founded. The finances for Émile Guimet’s travels and art collecting stem from the firm’s success.
 Naturally, painters used artificial ultramarine to produce paintings, and the pigment can be found in works by neoclassical masters such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
 Hubert Guimet’s lecture revealed part of the Guimet family history that outsiders were unfamiliar with. The lecture also noted substantial changes in terms of materials in the history of 19th century European painting. With an audience of close to 90, the lecture proved a success.

“Intangible Culture Heritage inPost-earthquake Reconstruction—Reports from the Field and Proposals” published

Report on the 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 A report on the 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was published in March 2011. The conference was held on December 16, 2011 with the theme of “Intangible Culture Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction.” Seven experts working on reconstruction from various standpoints were invited to give lectures and to discuss actual conditions and issues concerning intangible cultural heritage in post-earthquake Tohoku. Details of the lectures and discussion are included in this report in order to share information with and describe issues to as many people as possible. The report was distributed to relevant personnel, including all of the conference attendees. The entire report can also be downloaded in PDF format from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is planning to hold a 7th conference in the autumn of 2012 to continue discussing the theme of “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction.”

Environmental Conditions for Conservation of Cultural Properties published

Conditions for Conservation of Cultural Properties, edited by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and published by Chuo Koron Bijutsu Publishing Company

 In accordance with the Ministerial Ordinance to Revise Some of the Regulations Enforcing the Museum Act that was promulgated on April 30, 2009, Theories of Conservation of Museum Materials (2 credits) has been included in university or junior college courses to train curators. The course covers conservation of materials and exhibition conditions and will be required for accreditation as of this year. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has authored and edited what should be the standard text for the class and published it via Chuo Koron Bijutsu Shuppan. The book provides a basic knowledge of and skills for conservation of cultural properties in facilities handing cultural properties and outdoors. Much of the book deals with information related to the natural sciences, such as temperature and humidity and climate control. The book’s content has been carefully examined and selected so that even students in the humanities can readily understand it without a loss in quality. Another advantage of the book is that it is practical, so it can assist curators who are already involved in conservation. As mentioned earlier, the fact that the course is required has further emphasized the important duty that facilities handing cultural properties have to conserve those items. Drafting this text has been both an imperative and a joy for those of us at the Institute who have long been involved in studying conservation conditions. Hopes are that this text will teach students and shape their efforts.

Presentations at The Artist in Edo international symposium

Presentation at the National Gallery
(Washington, D.C.)

 The year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry blossom trees to the US. To commemorate the occasion, a variety of Japan-US exchange programs took place in conjunction with the yearly National Cherry Blossom Festival. Large exhibitions of Japanese art were put on by the National Gallery and the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. under titles such as Colorful Realm (ITO Jakuchu: The Sakyamuni Triptych and The Colorful Realm of Living Beings), Hokusai: 36 views of Mt. Fuji (KATSUSHIKA Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji), and Masters of Mercy (KANO Kazunobu: Zojoji Temple’s The Fiver Hundred Arhats). In conjunction with these exhibitions, the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) hosted an international symposium on The Artist in Edo on April 13th and 14th. The symposium featured presentations by 13 Japanese art history researchers from Japan, the US, and Europe. Tomoko EMURA gave a presentation entitled “Classicism, Subject Matter, and Artistic Status—In the Work of Ogata Kōrin.” The symposium allowed presentations of research results to the global community, it facilitated exchanges with researchers from around the world, and it helped to further understanding of the Institute’s research efforts. The CASVA plans to publish a report based on the symposium’s presentations in 2014.

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