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

July Facility Tour

An explanation at the Conservation Laboratory 1

 Fourty-four New Staff Members from the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage
 On July 24, fourty-four New Staff Members from the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage visited the Institute as part of their training.
 They toured the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, the Performing Arts Recording Studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the Chemistry Laboratory, the Conservation Laboratory 1 of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques.
 The staff members in charge of each section explained the work they do.

July seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems

The seminar underway

 The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems conducts a seminar every month. Starting at 3 PM on July 29 (Tues.), TSUDA Tetsuei, Head of the Art Research Materials Section delivered a presentation on the Origins of the Hollow Interiors of Wooden Sculptures from the Heian Period. The seminar took place in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems’ seminar room. The presentation also featured some of the results of Basic Research on Ancient and Medieval Statues of Omi [the previous name for Shiga Pref.]: Compilation of Basic Data and Images (2012-2014), which is research that TSUDA chaired. Seminar attendees included NISHIKAWA Kyotaro, a former Director General of the Institute. After TSUDA’s presentation, NISHIKAWA described his views on the presentation and he offered various suggestions based on his years of on-site experience restoring Buddhist sculptures and the valuable insights he gained from that experience. The views and suggestions that NISHIKAWA offered were captivating and couched in a way that even non-experts would be able to understand. Moreover, those views and suggestions included a wealth of specialized knowledge regarding techniques for sculpting Buddhist statues that one would seldom be privy to otherwise. NISHIKAWA generously offered his views and suggestions, resulting in a great opportunity for the presenter as well as seminar attendees to hear them.

A KURODA Seiki exhibit at the Museum of Kyoto

A gallery talk by UEDA Sayoko (curator at the Museum of Kyoto) at an exhibit of images based on an optical study of Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment
A life-sized image of Talk on Ancient Romance

 Spurred by a bequest from the oil painter KURODA Seiki, the Institute located the Kuroda Memorial Hall to highlight his achievements. The Hall displays KURODA’s masterpieces works, such as Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment. An exhibit entitled “A Master of Modern Japanese Oil Painting: The KURODA Seiki Exhibit” has been shown once a year since 1977 at art museums around the country. In 2007, KURODA’s works were transferred to the Tokyo National Museum. Since then, the Tokyo National Museum and Our Institute have jointly organized a traveling exhibition of his works. This year marks the 90th anniversary of KURODA’s death, so the exhibit was shown in Kyoto, which was occasionally the setting for KURODA’s works like Maiko and Talk on Ancient Romance. The exhibition took place at the Museum of Kyoto from June 7 to July 21. 
 In addition to KURODA’s works such as Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment, the exhibit featured an installation with images from an optical study that was conducted at the Institute. The massive work Talk on Ancient Romance was destroyed during the war, but a life-sized image (189×307 cm) of the work was created based on surviving photographic plates in the Institute’s collection. This image was shown at the exhibit, providing an opportunity to again appreciate the size of the work. On June 7, the day that the exhibit opened, SHIOYA Jun delivered a special lecture on “KURODA Seiki and Modern Art in Japan.” On June 21, UEDA Sayoko, a curator at the Museum of Kyoto delivered a lecture entitled “What did KURODA Seiki see in Kyoto?” based on the results of the latest research. On June 20, students from the Music Department of the Kyoto City University of the Arts put on a concert of French music, which was fitting since KURODA studied in France. Such events delighted a number of guests. The exhibition was warmly received before it concluded, with attendance of close to 40,000 visitors. This figure clearly surpassed the usual number of visitors to the traveling exhibition. 
 The Kuroda Memorial Hall that normally shows KURODA’s works is undergoing renovation. Once the Hall re-opens on January 2, 2015, the traveling exhibition that took place each year will end with the exhibition in Kyoto. In addition to Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment, other works by KURODA such as Woman Reading and Maiko will be displayed in the special room. The Hall will be open on additional days so that more visitors can appreciate KURODA’s works in Ueno.

A study of the revived lion dance in the Town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture

The lions of Onagawa [lion dance performers] gathered at Revive! The Lion Dance Performance

 In the Town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, locals refer to the lion dance as the “Shishi-furi.” In the Town of Onagawa, the lion dance has been passed down in most of the settlements dotting the rias of the prefecture’s coast. However, most of these settlements were devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and many of the dance props and costumes were washed away. Despite this, there is a mounting call for the dance to resume. Fortunately, the dance props and costumes are being recreated with support from several sources.
 The revived lion dance was performed at Revive! The Lion Dance Performance that took place last summer. The lion dance was originally performed at New Year’s, but prior to the earthquake the dance was performed on the water during the Onagawa Port Festival at the end of July. Performers from each settlement would ride on fishing boats in a maritime parade. Although this event is a relatively new tradition, it is deeply ingrained in the minds of the people of Onagawa. Reconstruction of the port is not yet finished, so this year the performance took place on the field at an elementary school. Nonetheless, throngs of residents of the Town of Onagawa gathered to boisterously cheer on several wildly dancing lions [lion dance performers]. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has continued to study the lion dance in Onagawa since the earthquake. This year, the Department has worked on creating an ethnography focusing on the lion dance.

Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation

Practice protecting materials from pests

 Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation has been conducted annually by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo since 1984. The training is intended to teach a basic knowledge of conservation and conservation skills to individuals who are in charge of conserving cultural materials in museum. This year, the training was scheduled from 2 weeks starting on July 14, and the trainees were 31 curators in charge of conservation and administrators of cultural properties from throughout Japan.
 During the 2 weeks, trainees learn about key conditions for conservation, such as temperature and humidity, climate control, and pest control, as well as causes of and steps to deal with degradation of different types of cultural materials by experts from the Institute and other institutions. The current training session also included lectures on dealing with water damage and radiological contamination of cultural properties in the event of a disaster. Trainees also practiced the techniques they were taught by those experts. Thanks to the Kiyose Historical Museum, trainees were able to experience a study of the conditions at a museum first-hand in a “case study” of the museum. Trainees divided into groups of 8 and studied specific topics, and they subsequently presented their findings.
 Most of the trainees have extensive practical experience and they are aware of institutional and facility issues for conservation. This training emphasizes materials conservation from an academic standpoint. Many trainees are flustered by the gap between ideal conservation and the realities of that work, so they ask numerous questions and often solicit advice during every lecture. The intent is to have trainees recognize that gap between the ideal and reality and to think about what steps they should take, given that reality, to conserve materials. Conservation is, after all, the primary mission of a museum. Institute personnel seek to maintain close ties with trainees even after the training is finished and offer them advice and suggestions.
 Announcement of and applications for the training are usually handled by a relevant department of the Board of Education of each prefecture. Plans are to send out notifications about the next training session starting in February 2015.

3D photographic survey of the Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia

Staff of the ASPARA Authority processing data
3D model produced using SfM. Shown is the west face of the inner gallery at the Ta Nei Temple

 A 3D photogrammetry of the Ta Nei Temple was conducted with staff of the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (ASPARA Authority) from July 21 to 30. The survey was conducted as part of joint research and collaboration with the ASPARA Authority, which is responsible for conserving and managing the Angkor Complex. The goal of the joint research and collaboration is to establish a way to provide an elevation view and document scattered stones around the site based on a 3D photographic survey. This technical support will facilitate basic documentation of theTa Nei Temple, which the ASPARA Authority plans to start conserving over the next few years.
 3D survey techniques are constantly advancing. The current survey attempted a technique known as Structure from Motion (SfM). This technique is noteworthy since it is relatively simple and does not require expensive equipment or software. The site is extensively photographed with a simple camera, like that found in a smartphone, and the image data are processed using open-source software, yielding a 3D model of the site. A model is obtained after a series of steps and its precision has to be further verified, but its level is sufficient to allow its use as basic data.
 In the future, several problems will still need to be resolved in order for the resulting model to be put to practical use as Cambodian management staff use this technique to document the entire temple. Developing countries like Cambodia have difficulty arranging special budgets and equipment for site conservation, but SfM should emerge as a way for local staff to document the state of a site as part of their everyday operations.

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