|■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
Nomura’s employees listening to an explanation
NOMURA Co., Ltd. 20 attendees
On November 7th, 2016, a party of 20 visited the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) for the purpose of acquiring accurate knowledge of “cultural assets” and contributing to their exhibition in an environmentally friendly manner at facilities including museums. They attended a lecture in the seminar room, followed by a facility tour to the Library and the Analytical Science Section, where researchers in charge described their business activities.
Participants in a Cultural Affairs Agency Workshop for Fine Arts and Crafts Repair Specialists receive an explanation.
Cultural Affairs Agency Workshop for Fine Arts and Crafts Repair Specialists 34 attendees
On November 17th, 2016, a party of 34, who participated in a Cultural Affairs Agency Workshop for Fine Arts and Crafts Repair Specialists, visited NRICPT on the belief that it would be extremely useful to take a look at the national center for research on cultural assets in Japan. After receiving an explanation in a conference room in the basement, they took a tour to its facilities, such as the Performing Arts Studio and the Physical Laboratory, where researchers in charge described their business activities.
A lecture being given
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organized a two-day open lecture in the seminar room of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) on November 4th and 5th, 2016. This year’s seminar marked the 50th milestone. Every autumn, TNRICP invites people from the general public to attend presentations given by its researchers and invited outside lecturers on the results of research that they conduct on a daily basis. This program is not only held as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito Ward but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st,2016.
The following four lectures were given this year: “Documentation Activities and Archives – A group of materials on the Year Book of Japanese Art and its transmission (Hideki KIKKAWA, Researcher, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and “Wolves Coming Back into Existence – Yamatsumi Shrine in Iitate Village – On the Restoration of the Ceiling Paintings) (Kyoko MASUBUCHI, Curator, Fukushima Prefectural Museum) on the 4th and “Techniques to Hand Down Forms – Welcome to the backstage of an exhibition) (Chie SANO, Director, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and “Forms to Memorize and Those to Find – Meanings and Value of “Cultural Properties”) (Ken OKADA, Director, Center for Conservation Science) on the 5th. The event drew a total of 159 visitors from the general public over two days, and gained favorable reviews.
The JAL (Japanese Art Librarian) Project is a project started in fiscal 2014the fiscal year before last supported by grants from the Agency for Cultural Affairs and led by the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo with the purpose, among others, of reconsidering the ideal framework of the service to provide information materials on Japanese art and related information by inviting to Japan experts (including librarians and archivists) who handle Japanese-art related materials outside Japan.
The nine invited experts visited related organizations in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara from November 27 to December 10, 2016. The group visited this institute on November 30 and we showed them in the library, etc. book materials, photos taken in the surveys of artworks, files of modern and contemporary artists, and moreover, the materials and projects related to art sales catalogues, and explained how we provide information on the Internet. Furthermore, the group exchanged information and discussed researches with our institute’s researchers and officials of related organizations in Japan. On December 9, the last day of the training, an open workshop was held in the lecture room of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo where the invitees made recommendations regarding the dissemination of information on Japanese art. It became a good opportunity to review how we provide information on cultural assets on a global basis.
Preceding the invitation, Dr. Emiko Yamanashi, Deputy Director General of this institute, had been asked to serve as a Member of the Executive Committee of JAL2016 and gave a seminar on information on Japanese art for graduate students of the University of Pittsburgh. Moreover, as the three-year project was to be completed at the end of fiscal 2016, an “Answer Symposium” (http://www.momat.go.jp/am/visit/library/jal2016/) was held on February 3, 2017, to respond to the suggestions and recommendations made so far.
The event being conducted at the venue
On November 13th, 2016, an event titled “Inheritance and Development of Cultural Heritage – Event to Support the Restoration of Local Performing Arts – Let’s talk and pass down together” was organized by the National Museum of Ethnology and held in the main hall of the Ofunato Municipal Sanriku Community Center.
Disaster-stricken performing arts groups, supporters, administrative authorities, and researchers got together and exchanged views and opinions concerning the path that they have taken thus far, proactive measures, and know-how on receiving support and keeping equipment, tools and costumes safe.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage (DICH) exhibited posters for the “311 Reconstruction Support and Intangible Cultural Heritage Information Network” that it has operated with more than one collaborative body since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and for the protection of intangible cultural properties from disaster.
While support has been diminishing, disaster-affected performing arts groups continue to face harsh circumstances. Few events that bridge these performing arts groups, supporters, administrative authorities, and researchers have been held to discuss the actual situation surrounding the devastated performing arts or issues associated with support on site and on a face-to-face basis. Continuously having opportunities to form “loose networks” such as this may lead to the ideal form of protection from disaster for intangible cultural heritages both now and in the future.
installation of FIT
The Center for Conservation Science has been moving forward the basic research on “hot-air processing” as one of the new ways of exterminating insect pests in historical wooden architecture. It heats a structure while maintaining a steady moisture content so that wood or coloration sustains no damage, thereby exterminating insect pests that perforate members inside the building, such as columns and beams, or cause feeding damage to them.
In research such as this, it is ideal to use insect pests that actually cause damage when evaluating insecticidal effects. However, it becomes necessary to identify ways of collecting living insect pests efficiently or to establish an artificial rearing method to ensure their steady availability. To that end, we here discuss ways of capturing them.
In the case of ordinary sticky traps for capturing flying insects, because an adhesive substance adheres to the insect pests captured, it is difficult to catch them alive. We therefore looked into how they are captured by applying a method called a Flight Interception Trap (FIT). The FIT utilizes the characteristic that a flying insect shrinks its wings or legs and falls when hitting an obstacle and thus is made up of a transparent collision plate and a trapping container installed underneath.
When we conducted a survey on insect pests captured by using a FIT at a temple on Mt. Nikko this fiscal year, we succeeded in capturing the intended insect pests (mainly deathwatch beetles) alive. Being able to capture them alive can not only provide clues to elucidating their biology or life history but also lead to artificial rearing.
We believe that it is important to accumulate the results of such basic research activities as the foundation underpinning the development of new ways to exterminate insect pests in historical wooden architecture.
Meeting to exchange views and opinions
On-site inspection of a mural painting
From October 29th through November 14th, 2016, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a meeting to exchange views and opinions on the conservation of and management system for mural paintings and conducted an inspection tour in the Republic of Turkey. The meeting took place, targeting administrative officials in charge of conserving mural paintings in the country, conservation and restoration specialists, educators and university students, at three venues, namely, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Faculty of Art and Design, Gazi University in Ankara, and the Argos Hotel in Cappadocia. Through a presentation on a training program associated with the conservation and management of the mural paintings of cave churches of Cappadocia planned by the Center, we were able to identify participants’ needs firsthand and obtain valuable information that will be helpful in developing projects in the future.
Meanwhile, the inspection tour covered cave churches scattered about the Goreme district in Cappadocia, cave churches in Ihlara Valley, Çatalhöyük, the Antalya Museum, St. Nicholas Church in Demre, and the ruins of Ephesus, under the cooperation of the Nevsehir Conservation and Restoration Center and the Conservation and Restoration Department, Faculty of Art and Design, Gazi University. This tour allowed us to deepen our understanding of the actual situation of maintaining and managing a wide variety of mural paintings in this nation. We will continue to conduct similar surveys, identifying points to be improved and new issues so as to translate them into new future projects.
Demonstration of straining paste with a sieve
From November 9th through 25th, 2016, the “Paper Conservation in Latin America” was held as a part of the LATAM program (conservation of cultural heritage in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean) run by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) at the Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural (CNCPC) in Mexico City, which belongsto Mexico’s Ministry of Culture. The course drew a total of 11 specialists in restoration of cultural properties from 8 countries, that is, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) hosted the first part of the course (from 9th through 17th), which included lectures and a practical session conducted by TNRICP researchers and a restorer of a certificated organization holding “soko” (restoration technique based on traditional mounting) which is selected as Techniques for the Preservation of Cultural Properties by Japanese government. With the aim of applying Japanese restoration techniques to cultural properties overseas,
lectures were given on the protection system of cultural properties in Japan, and tools and materials used in restoration. In addition, a practical session was held to deepen participants’ understanding of culture and at the same time characteristics of restoration in Japan. The practical session was carried out with CNCPC staff members who learned “soko” for several months at TNRICP.
In the latter half of the course (from 18th through 25th), specialists in restoration of cultural properties from Mexico, Spain and Argentina gave lectures. The main theme was application of traditional handmade Japanese paper to Western conservation and restoration techniques. As the conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties in Latin America has not yet reached those in Europe and the United States, they lectured on how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper. These lectures were followed by practical sessions. Specialists in charge of the lectures and practical sessions had previously participated in international courses organized by TNRICP, and we were able to reaffirm that technical exchange through these courses contributes to the protection of cultural properties overseas.
Under the above-mentioned assistance project, as part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we continue to send a mission to the local site in Nepal. This time (November 20th through December 6th, 2016), we dispatched a total of 16 people, including outside experts and students of the University of Tokyo, Kagawa University, and Tokyo Metropolitan University.
The local field survey under this mission covered an extensive range of topics from architectural history to structural study to urban planning, and in this issue, we report on the “Conference on Conservation of Historical Settlements in the Kathmandu Basin” held on November 30th,2016, among others.
Many of the historical settlements scattered about the Kathmandu Basin were struck by the Gorkha Earthquake that hit the area in April 2015, and restoration efforts have faced a number of hardships to date. One of them is the fact that the system to preserve historical settlements as cultural heritage is not fully in place and the situation is not necessarily moving in the direction of maintaining and making use of their cultural value. Against this background, Nepalese government authorities, including the Reconstruction Agency and the Department of Archaeology, are working on establishing a system for preserving historical settlements. However, in order to achieve such conservation, while the role to be performed by the local administration that has jurisdiction over them is significant, it has been revealed that owing to shortfalls in budget or personnel, authorities are unable to formulate effective policies.
We thus offered overtures to six cities, that is, four cities that hold jurisdiction over the historical settlements in the Kathmandu Basin and are included in the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list and Bhaktapur and Lalitpur, two of which have historical towns that are already registered as World Heritage sites, and organized a conference to share the present state of a wide variety of efforts and initiatives and issues and to provide information on the Japanese system for conserving historical streetscapes.
Animated discussions were held on, for example, the necessity of collaboration between the central and local governments and local residents in addressing the issues. Those in charge who participated from each city strongly approved the purpose of this conference and agreed that they would continue to cooperate into the future. We are pleased that this conference helped establish a major foothold for mutually cooperative relations and hope to continue extending effective support.
On August 24th, 2016, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake with its epicenter in the central part of Myanmar struck; as a consequence, the ruins of Bagan, one of the representative cultural assets of the nation, suffered serious damage. The group of ruins in the region includes more than 3,000 brick Buddhist stupas and small temples built mainly in the 11th to 13th centuries. According to the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, 389 of these sites were discovered to have been damaged (as of the end of October 2016).
Following the dispatch of an advance inspection team in September,2016, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs to oversee a project to provide emergency aid and sent a party of eight specialists (on conserving cultural assets, repairing buildings, structure of buildings, and surveying) to the sites with the aim of identifying the actual state of quake damage to valuable cultural properties, from October 26th through November 10th, 2016. They conducted surveys from four standpoints, namely, the situation of damaged historical buildings, the structural analysis of damaged buildings, the situation of emergency protective measures, and the analysis of records of damage.
The ruins of Bagan sustained quake damage in 1975 as well, and a large number of structures had been restored or rebuilt thereafter. As a result of the current inspections, however, it was discovered that much of the damage from this earthquake was concentrated on the newly reconstructed parts or the boundaries between the newly repaired parts and old parts, such as a tower of the upper part of a building. Moreover, deformation or cracks existing in vaults, walls or podiums owing to age are believed to have been aggravated by the earthquake. Meanwhile, thanks in part to prompt actions by local residents and volunteers under the leadership of local authorities, emergency protective measures appear to have been taken in an expeditious manner.
With an eye toward subsequent restoration, we must identify the cause and mechanisms of damage by not only conducting further inspection but also discussing the technical and philosophical issues that are common to the conservation of brick architectural heritages in earthquake-prone regions, such as how to reinforce a structure, melding of traditional techniques and modern counterparts, and the validity of reconstructing damaged parts.
Artifacts in the Palmyra Museum destroyed by IS (photograph donated by Dr. Robert Zukowski)
In the Middle Eastern country of Syria, a massive civil uprising calling for democratization occurred in March 2011 and developed into a civil war that has already lasted five years. Casualties in the nation have topped 250 thousand while more than 4.8 million citizens have fled the country as refugees.
Because of this state of civil warfare in Syria, valuable cultural assets have suffered damage as well, which has been reported as major news stories internationally. Of particular note is that reports of damage wrought on Palmyra by Islamic State (IS) militants from August 2015 through October last year made headlines and drew public attention also in Japan.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) cohosted the symposium titled “The Syrian Civil War and Cultural Heritage – The Actual State of the World Heritage Site at Palmyra and International Support for Its Reconstruction” with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office, Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO at the Tokyo National Museum and Todaiji Temple’s Kinsho Hall on November 20th and 23rd, 2016, respectively.
The ruins of Palmyra had been controlled by the IS since May 2015 and they were recaptured by the Syrian government forces in March 2016. Polish and Syrian researchers conducted field surveys at the site in April. They recorded the state of damage wrought on the ruins in the region and the Palmyra Museum, and provided preliminary aid to damaged artifacts of the museum and transported them to Damascus promptly.
At this symposium, Polish and Syrian researchers who witnessed the graphic situation at the site, experts from both home and abroad, and UNESCO staff got together and discussed what type of support would be effective with a view to reconstructing damaged cultural heritages in Syria, including the devastated ruins of Palmyra.