|■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
Results of a search on OCLC WorldCat website
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) concluded an agreement regarding the implementation of the “project to formulate the basic grounds for sending information on cultural assets centered on fine arts and crafts both domestically and internationally” with the National Museum of Western Art (NMWA), Tokyo on June 27th, 2016. NMWA was established on the basis of the collection of Japanese business tycoon Kojiro MATSUKATA in 1959. The database of its collection has been acclaimed highly as the norm by experts both at home and abroad as it meets the requirements of the study of art history. The purpose of signing the treaty this time around is for NRICPT to step up its efforts at sending information about the cultural assets in Japan that it discloses on the Internet by making use of NMWA’s method of, and experience in, disseminating information. As the first project under the concluded treaty, we plan to provide the global library service organization Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) with the “information on literature listed on the exhibition catalogues published in Japan,” which has been included in the Year Book of Japanese Art that NRICPT compiles and publishes. Through a project like this, we will continue to improve accessibility to information on research on Japanese art overseas.
The Istanbul Congress Center, the venue of the session
Plenary session of the Committee
The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from July 10th, 2016. Two staff members of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) participated in the Committee.
It was the third review of “The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier,” which includes the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, as one of components of the property, since the first review was conducted in 2009. As the Advisory Body (ICOMOS) recommended that it be inscribed on the World Heritage List, expectations grew among parties concerned when the review the following day became almost certain to be held in the evening of July 15th. Owing to the repercussions of an attempted coup by the military that occurred on the night of the 15th to the early morning of the 16th, however, the session on the 16th was canceled and it was decided on the 17th that the property be inscribed on the List. To reduce the time for discussion, the Committee Members were not allowed to comment on the sites which were recommend by the Advisory Bodies to be inscribed on the World Heritage List; thus, it was unfortunate that we were unable to hear their opinions about the Architectural Work of Le Corbusier.
From this time, regarding the nominated properties for inscription on the World Heritage List, the States Parties concerned are notified of the interim evaluation made by the World Heritage Panel. On the basis of this evaluation, they can modify their nomination files for the final evaluation. There are different responses by the States Parties. While some withdrew their files, others revised them significantly to prepare for the evaluation. There were cases in which the Advisory Bodies’ negative recommendation was overturned by the Committee and it was decided that the property be inscribed on the List. Given such cases, discussions should be continued on how recommendation and evaluations are made by the Advisory Bodies.
Note that although the session of the committee was scheduled to last until July 20th, it was abruptly adjourned on the 17th because of the coup. The session will be resumed at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris from October 24th to 26th, 2016, where agenda items are due to be discussed, such as minor boundary modifications of the properties already inscribed on the World Heritage List, including “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range,” and a revision to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
A man-made island built with megalith in Nan Madol
Discussing plans to conserve and manage the ruins with a staff in charge from the National Government of the Federated States of Micronesia.
The Ruins of Nan Madol in the Federated States of Micronesia were inscribed on the List of World Heritage (and simultaneously on the List of World Heritage in Danger) at the 40th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held from July 10th to 17th, 2016. The ruins are composed of 95 man-made islands of various sizes built with gigantic stones such as basalt and are among the largest ruins of megalithic culture in the Pacific region. Inscription on the List of World Heritage had been a long-cherished dream of the island nation.
In 2010, the nation asked Japan to extend international cooperation in protecting these ruins through the UNESCO office for the Pacific region. In response, the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (Consortium) conducted a field survey of the partner nation in February 2011 and published the findings in the “Survey Report on the Present State of Nan Madol, Federated States of Micronesia.” Since then, the Consortium, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have taken the initiative using subsidies from the Japan Foundation and other organizations in implementing projects to develop human resources and transfer technology to protect the ruins. During the course of the implementation, we were able to secure the participation and cooperation of individuals, including Professor Osamu Kataoka of Kansai Gaidai University, who has studied the ruins over many years, and various organizations from governmental, industrial and academic sectors, such as the Institute of Industrial Science of The University of Tokyo, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, NPO Pacifika Renaissance, and Windy Network Corporation.
One of the Consortium’s ideals is to build a common base for a broad range of domestic parties involved in the protection of cultural assets to join hands and work together, so that Japan may be able to work on international cooperation through concerted efforts. The project to provide the Ruins of Nan Madol with cooperation to protect them is the perfect showcase of this ideal. Moreover, the fruits of such effort most probably led to its inscription on the List of World Heritage.
Having said so, however, the Ruins of Nan Madol were also simultaneously inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This means that many parts of the ruins have continued to collapse. In addition, plans and systems to protect them are not yet adequate, so it indicates that Nan Madol will still need the assistance and cooperation of a large number of experts in the future.
Presentation of Hu Wei, Deputy Director of The National Art Museum of China
Dr. Yasuhiro Hayakawa (Center for Conservation Science) attended the International Symposium on the National Art Collection’s Conservation held in the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. The National Art Museum of China is the largest art museum in China and established the conservation center a few years ago. The art museum has been promoting the conservation of art works in the conservation center and has completed communication and cooperation with foreign conservation institutions.
Fourteen researchers and restorers in the field of conservation and restoration were invited from Japan, US, UK, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Nineteen talks on topics such as the philosophy of conservation, examples of paintings’ conservation and results of scientific investigation were presented in the symposium. Dr. Hayakawa presented the research work of the material analysis of the Japanese paintings using cutting-edge technology. More than 30 directors of public art museums in China also participated. It shows that China is actively promoting the establishment of philosophy and the acquisition of conservation for artworks.
Working with local experts at the site
As part of the above-mentioned support project through the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have continued to dispatch staff to the site in Nepal.
In view of its state of damage, it was determined that it is necessary to quickly provide a temporary support to Aganchen Temple (built in the middle of the 17th century), the main target of examination at the Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu. Specifically, in terms of “countermeasures against leakage of rain at the top of the roof,” “ infilling temporary structure inside the building,” “providing support of collapsing outer walls” and “securing safety for prayers and tourists against falling objects,” Japanese experts of the project team drew up plans with the help of local experts and submitted the proposed plans to the Department of Archaeology. On the basis of these plans, emergency stabilization work was implemented. To supervise the details of design and provide technical advice, we dispatched experts from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) in three batches, that is, May 28th to June 4th, June 13th to 19th and July 3rd to 9th, 2016.
This time around, we only provided temporary measures for this project. However, while exchanging views and opinions with local experts and artisans on a face-to-face basis, we could believe that the work was significant in terms of not only tangible contribution but also technology transfer to the site, which is also another objective of this project. We will continue to conduct research in an attempt for further restoration the historic heritage.
Appearance of the Mae-taw-yat temple
An experiment on filling using hydraulic lime
From July 18th to 29th, 2016, we carried out investigations of damage to outer walls of a brick-built temple as well as conducted review and experiments of restoration materials at the Mae-taw-yat temple (No. 1205) within the Bagan Archaeological Zone. These investigations and experiments were implemented on the basis of the outcome of the survey that verified the state of conservation of the mural paintings on the internal walls of the temple, which had been completed in the previous fiscal year and revealed that the main cause of exfoliation and chipping of the plaster layer is leakage of rain.
A European expert on brick material conservation and restoration participated in this on-site work. With staff members of the Myanmar Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs and the Bagan Branch of the Department of Archeology, National Museum and Library, we verified the characteristics of burnt bricks manufactured during the Pagan Dynasty from a wide variety of angles. On the basis of the findings and considering Myanmar’s tropical rainforest climate, we selected materials suitable for restoration and conducted their tests as emergency measures for preventing leakage of rain. In consideration of the appearance at the archeological sites, we will continue to improve materials through monitoring the condition over time,. Furthermore, we performed multipoint measurements using a digital moisture meter to identify the distribution of moisture in the internal walls of the temple, and also took a video using a digital 4K camcorder to record the state of the external walls prior to the implementation of emergency measures.
In this project, we aim not only to take temporary measures but also to establish a permanent method of addressing the problem. In anticipation of Bagan’s future, we will study reasonable ways that fit the current situation surrounding the protection of cultural properties in Myanmar and also work on capacity building of budding experts.
Lecture on handling a hanging scroll in Basic course
Practical work on restoration of a hanging scroll in Advanced course
This workshop is held annually for the purpose of preservation and utilization of Japanese art objects such as calligraphic works and paintings overseas and developing understanding of these objects. In this year, it was conducted that Basic course “Japanese Paper and Silk Cultural Properties” from July 6th to 8th, 2016 and Advanced course “Restoration of Japanese Hanging Scrolls” from July 11th to 15th at the Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) with the support of Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum).
In Basic course, there were 15 restorers, conservators and students from nine countries. This course includes lectures on the materials used for the art objects, such as paste, animal glue, mineral pigments and paper. Practical works on producing a calligraphic work and a painting, and handling hanging scrolls were also conducted. In Advanced course, nine restorers were attended from seven countries. This course is comprised mainly practical works about “soko” (restoration technique based on traditional mounting) which is selected as Techniques for the Preservation of Cultural Properties by Japanese government. The practical works such as removing and attaching the rods of a hanging scroll, and demonstrations by the instructors like lining presented knowledge and techniques of restoring hanging scrolls. Discussions were held in both courses. In addition to a question and answer session, opinions about restoration and applications of Japanese techniques and materials were exchanged.
Similar projects will be implemented with the aim of contribution of the preservation and utilization of Japan’s tangible and intangible cultural properties overseas by sharing information about conservation materials and techniques in Japan with conservators overseas.