|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Movement of the bronzed black kite of the Shochuhi memorial (Feb. 7, 2013)
Erected on the ruins of the keep of Sendai Castle (or Aoba Castle), the Shochuhi memorial was erected in 1902 to commemorate the fallen from the Imperial Army’s 2nd Division, which was located in Sendai. The Shochuhi memorial is currently under the care of Gokoku Shrine, Miyagi Prefecture. As was previously reported (Jan. and June, 2012), the black kite in bronze that sat atop the memorial’s stone pedestal fell as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake. With its Secretariat in the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Committee to Rescue Cultural Properties Damaged by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami worked to rescue the memorial as a cultural property. Bronze fragments that were scattered around and atop the pedestal were previously collected. The bronzed black kite had been left as it was for a prolonged period, but it was finally moved this February.
Work started on February 4 and was supervised by Bronze Studios and Sekiho, which have previously worked to restore outdoor sculptures. A 4.5×4 m bed of steel plates was placed on the ground in front of the east side of the Shochuhi memorial. On February 7, a 25-t all-terrain crane lifted the bronzed black kite and placed it atop the bed of steel plates. A covering was then fashioned from corrugated plastic panels, and all work was completed on February 9. Snow occasionally fell during the work but was cleared. Luckily, lifting of the bronzed black kite was marked by good weather on the 7th; lifting proceeded as relevant personnel and members of the local media looked on. Movement will allow inspection inside the broken neck of the black kite statue. The head of the statue was found to be joined to the body by a mortise-and-tenon joint and an inscription was found to read “Head joined October 4, 1902/At the Tokyo Fine Art School/ In Commemoration of this Date.” Such discoveries are important to the study of the Shochuhi memorial. Like previous work to rescue the Shochuhi memorial, movement of the bronzed black kite was carried out thanks to donations to the Institute from Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. (President: MURAKAMI Takashi) to help with the Cultural Property Rescue Program.
Movement of the bronzed black kite under cover will prevent damage to broken areas by rain for the time being. Nevertheless, the bronzed black kite was damaged extensively by the fall, e.g. its left wing broke off, so it is far from its majestic visage prior to the disaster. Other threats have yet to be dealt with, such as bronze adornments atop the pedestal falling off and complete collapse of the pedestal due to penetration by rainwater. Future steps must be taken to conserve this rare memorial from the Meiji Era.
Presentation of results of an optical study of AI-MITSU’s Landscape with an Eye
On February 26, OTANI Shogo (Senior researcher, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) delivered a presentation entitled “AI-MITSU’s Landscape with an Eye” at a seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. The work’s creator, AI-MITSU (born: ISHIMURA Nichiro, 1907–46), left behind a body of work through his unique sense of shapes and steadfast use of oil paints. As a painter, AI-MITSU is an essential part of Japan’s history of Western-style painting from the 1930s to 40s. Among his numerous works, Landscape with an Eye is not merely a result of surrealism in modern Japanese art; rather, the piece is renowned for its unique depiction of the fantastic amidst darkening times.
The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems previously conducted optical studies with the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo through a research project on Research on the Use of High-Resolution Digital Images and Comprehensive Research on Modern and Contemporary Art in January and April 2010. Full-scale color images and near-infrared reflectance images from those studies will be exhibited on the second floor of the Institute.
A participant in the optical study of AI-MITSU’s Landscape with an Eye, OTANI presented the results of his research, which builds on study and discussion of the images obtained. OTANI’s presentation brought up several issues. Although AI-MITSU’s work is generally considered to be typical of surrealist painting in Japan, numerous questions remain, e.g. what specific impact did the work have and what was AI-MITSU trying to depict? Near-infrared reflectance imaging and near-infrared transmittance imaging were done, allowing a glimpse into the process AI-MITSU used to produce the work. The comprehensive presentation discussed a single work from multiple perspectives. It reviewed the work in terms of the motivation behind its creation and its motifs and depictions in light of the imaging information and it confirmed the work’s place in art history via remarks on and assessments of the work thus far.
During the Conference (speech by FUJIWARA Takumi)
Over the past few years, white LED technology has progressed dramatically. Improved color rendering and increased variation in color temperatures have reached the level where installing white LEDs as lighting for exhibitions can be considered. Such lighting requires color reproduction and creation of various lighting effects. That said, many museum staffs have expressed concerns about the effects of such lighting on materials, differences between objects viewed under that lighting and under conventional lighting, and whether power consumption can be reduced commensurate with the costs of installation. Given the need to share information on the development of white LEDs and the current state of exhibit lighting, a conference on reducing energy use in museums was held on Feb. 18, 2013.
The Conference featured respective talks by two experts on development of LED technologies and two curators from art museums that installed white LEDs as exhibit lighting. One expert on the development of LED technologies, FUJIWARA Takumi, President of Light Meister Co., Ltd., discussed the basic principles of white LEDs and the latest technological trends. The other expert, MIYASHITA Takeshi of CCS Inc., talked about the development of new type of white LEDs, stimulated by violet LED, which emit light that is closer to natural light than that emitted by conventional white LEDs. MIYASHITA also talked about the installation of those LEDs in museums. The Yamaguchi Prefectural Art Museum installed white LEDs as exhibit lighting a while back. KAWANO Michitaka of the Art Museum described exhibits and staging that fully capitalized on the features of LED light sources, such as control of color temperatures. TAKANASHI Mitsumasa of the National Museum of Western Art described reduced energy use based on measurements. In addition, TAKANASHI described the characteristics of white LEDs from the perspective of someone who is constantly in contact with artworks, i.e. differences between oil paintings viewed under that lighting and under conventional lighting.
Over the past few years, production of energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs has gradually diminished and halted as a step to combat global warming. In addition, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is expected to be adopted globally this October, is expected to dictate reduced production of products containing mercury after 2020. Continuing to use fluorescent lighting may no longer be limited. Installation of alternative lighting is inevitable for facilities handling cultural properties. Reflecting this fact, the Conference was attended by 130 individuals from around the country. The question-and-answer portion covered a range of topics, from issues concerning materials conservation such as elimination of ultraviolet radiation and temperature changes to issues concerning color temperatures and staging. In order to deal with issues raised during the Conference and to meet the needs of relevant personnel, we will continue to gather the latest information on organic electro-luminescence, the next generation of lighting to follow white LEDs, and we will continue to study and assess that lighting from the perspective of conservation. We will also convey the needs of museums and art museums to lighting developers and facilitate the use of these light sources as exhibit lighting.
A trainee cleaning a metal object
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has undertaken a four-year training project since 2011. As part of the project, a series of workshops will be held covering “documentation,” “excavations,” “conservation,” and “site management.”
The fourth workshop, a “Training Workshop on Conservation of Archaeological Objects and Documentation of Excavated Objects,” was held jointly with the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage, the National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic from February 8 to 14, 2013. A total of eight young Kyrgyz trainees participated in the workshop.
During the workshop, trainees received practical training in “pottery reconstruction,” “metal conservation,” and “pottery drawing” using archaeological objects that were excavated during the 3rd workshop in the summer of 2012.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation plans to conduct various workshops to protect cultural heritage in Central Asia next year as well.
Interview with members of the National Commission of Culture and the Arts
Interior of San Agustin Church, a World Heritage Site
Callao Cave on the northern part of the island of Luzon
The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage surveyed the cultural heritage of Myanmar from February 14th to the 25th. The main goal of the survey was to explore current and future developments in international cooperation to preserve cultural heritage in the Philippines by visiting sites firsthand and determining the Philippines’ specific requirements for cooperative efforts. Sites such as churches and houses from the Spanish colonial period as well as prehistoric shell mounds and rock art were visited along with museums and libraries. Survey members gathered information and interviewed relevant personnel.
Results of the survey indicated that the public needs to be increasingly aware of the need to protect many historic buildings and archaeological sites as cultural heritage. That said, educational institutions involved in protecting cultural heritage are lagging, so personnel need to be promptly trained. Cooperation with local authorities is a key aspect of protecting cultural heritage, and provision of that protection depends on local politics.
Interviews indicated that the Philippines wishes Japan to help foster academic cooperation between the countries and train Filipino personnel with an eye toward increased public awareness of cultural heritage and cooperation in Asia. Japan needs to capitalize on its previous cooperative efforts in Asia and provide support with an eye toward cooperation with other Asian countries. Such steps are essential to determining ways to protect the cultural heritage of the Philippines.
The year 2013 is the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, and Japan is expected to cooperate more with the region. In order to explore the nature of cooperation Japan can provide with regard to preserving cultural heritage, plans are to determine what support Japan can provide while continuing to gather information and coordinate with relevant institutions.