|■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
Memorandum signing ceremony for the opening and operation of the “Project to Create Digital Copies of Art Catalogues,” which was pursued in collaboration with the Tokyo Art Club
Dedicated terminal of art catalogue digital archive
An art catalogue is a brochure that is created in advance for selling items in individual and family collections at auction houses. It is an important resource listing the names and photographs of artworks that have been sold. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties possesses 2,565 art catalogues, the largest collection among public agencies. Until now, the Institute has enabled the public to view this art catalogue information at its Library, by attaching photographs to cards. However, as the storage conditions of the original art catalogues were bad, the Institute, in collaboration with the Tokyo Art Club, began a project to convert these art catalogues into digital format from 2015 (see the April 2015 monthly report). Through the support of the Tokyo Art Club and many others, the project was completed after approximately 4 years of hard work and is now being opened to the public as a digital archive.
The art catalogues recorded in the digital archive were created before World War II, including 2,328 catalogues in the collection of the Institute and 309 catalogues in the collection of the Tokyo Art Club for a total of 2,637 catalogues. In principle, the artworks selected for digital recording were those that were listed in art catalogues together with an image photograph, about 375,500 of which exist at this point in time. The digital archive is classified into bibliographic information and artwork information. Bibliographic information is information according to an art catalogue, whereas artwork information is information on individual artworks that can be viewed together with their photographic images. The Art Catalogue Digital Archive is open to the public during regular operating hours of the Library at the Institute, using a dedicated terminal. A variety of bits of information can be perused, and images and lists can be printed out for a fee (10 yen/page for black-and-white print outs and 50 yen/page for color print outs).
Scene of the seminar
It can be said that what plays a major role in the world of visual arts is each piece of art created by an artist. However, it is also true that such people as artists, critics, and researchers talking with each other over pieces of art to value them comprise an essential part of the entire visual art world. The numerous remarks delivered by such people are important clues to understanding the visual arts in the era. Akihiko TAKAMI (born in 1955) who passed away suddenly at the age of 55 in 2011 was among the critics who devoted themselves to art criticism. At a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on April 23rd, 2019, Mr. Koji KUROKAWA from Sakura City Museum of Art made a presentation about Takami’s activities as an aggressive critic.
Mr. Kurokawa’s presentation titled “Art Critic Akihiko Takami’s Activities and Archives” was based on his careful investigation of many source materials in Takami’s archives such as manuscripts written by Takami and letters he exchanged with artists. The remaining preserved copies of Takami’s letters to artists show that he supported many young artists in their creative activities by spontaneously organizing exhibitions as a planner while writing several reviews in magazines such as BIJUTSUTECHO. At the seminar, the participants including Mr. Toshiya MOTAI, an artist who had a close relationship with Takami, openly discussed how these archives should be utilized going forward while tracing the footsteps of Akihiko Takami as an art critic. Many of the archives contain some information about artists or critics currently active in the art world and thus careful consideration must be given before disclosing them in some cases. During the discussion, the participants including Mr. Motai expressed their thoughts from different standpoints and it was a good opportunity to find a way to handle and effectively use Akihiko Takami’s archives.
Digital content of “Kichijoten” on a computer screen
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems creates digital contents of any artworks investigated and studied at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties to release those at the Library. We began releasing the digital content of “Kichijoten” (Beauty Goddess; National Treasure), owned in Yakushiji Temple in Nara. “Kichijoten” is the oldest existing picture and considered to have been created at Yakushiji Temple as the principal image for Kichijo-keka (confession of faults to Kichijoten). It is well known as a rare painting from the Nara period. The Institute conducted a joint research with the Nara National Museum, and we created this digital content according to the report on the research results issued in 2008. The dedicated computer in the Library shows the research results, such as the high-resolution color image, fluorescence image, near infrared image, X-ray image, and the results of the analysis of coloring material using X-ray fluorescence technologies. This computer may only be used for academic or research purposes and copying or printing the digital content is prohibited. However, you may freely access the large amount of artwork information containing a variety of digital images. The dedicated computer for viewing images is available during the opening hours of the Library. Please refer to the following URL for the instructions for use:
Cover of the report: “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology”
Spiderwort-dyed paper is a type of Japanese paper, which is soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals. The paper is used as a dyestuff to make rough sketches during the production of Yuzen-dyed fabrics. From 2016 to 2017, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in association with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture conducted a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and, in 2018, published a project report titled, “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology” (DVD included).
This report was compiled by staff from Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan in association with researchers from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and included the following studies: a record of the techniques employed by three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper; a study on the soil in which Asiatic dayflowers are cultivated and the preservation of the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals; a study on the Japanese paper that is used to make spiderwort-dyed paper; a study of ancient documents relating to spiderwort-dyed paper; a questionnaire survey of producers and users of spiderwort-dyed paper; and a study on the positioning of spiderwort-dyed paper as a cultural heritage. The data obtained from this joint project is being stored in cooperation with Kusatsu City and can be applied in future research.
Beginning from this year, Kusatsu City is implementing measures to safeguard the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique. Techniques for producing materials used in intangible cultural heritage are sometimes appraised as techniques to safeguard cultural heritage (Selected Conservation Techniques). In addition, spiderwort-dyed paper will likely be appraised as a regional folk cultural asset of Kusatsu. We hope that this report will inform many more people about the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and will engender lively discussion toward its safeguarding.
Many museums frequently ask for our advice on how to reduce the concentration of ammonia and acetic acid kept inside their repositories and exhibition cases. Ammonia accelerates discoloration of oil paintings, while acetic acid badly erodes metallic goods, especially artifacts and coins containing lead. This work is indispensable for preserving cultural assets.
This guide, edited by the Preventive Conservation Section, is the fruit of research on display environment for preservation and utilization. You can read it from April 2019 in the notice exhibited on the first page of Center for Conservation Science on the website of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (in Japanese). We have intended to provide content covering the basic knowledge of air cleaning, monitoring pollutions, and their countermeasures so that all kinds of people can use the guide, including curators, workers entrusted with controlling air conditioning, and researchers. The end of the guide presents “frequently asked questions” with an easy access to the pages referred to in the answers. The appendix explains concrete processes of measuring methods using many pictures. We have also provided reference books and documents for those who want to know more details.
It will be our pleasure if this can help improve the environment of museums.
On Saturday April 13th, 2019, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, in cooperation with the Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM), convened the international symposium titled “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education.”
The purpose of this symposium was to help in the understanding of what kind of specific support is sought in the fields of history education and cultural heritage preservation in Iraq, a country that has begun moving toward restoration.
JIAEM representative Dr. Tatsundo KOIZUMI reported on the state of the ruins of the Mesopotamian civilization when he visited Iraq in the spring of 2017. For his part, Masashi ABE from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties talked about the training of Iraqi specialists for conservation that the Institute has been conducting for many years. Dr. Hiromichi OGUCHI of Kokushikan University, on the other hand, spoke about the Iraq archaeological survey being conducted by his university since 1969. Dr. Mariya MASUBUCHI of the Kyoto University of Art and Design and Mr. Tomoyuki SAKAKIBARA of JIAEM gave presentations on the importance of manpower training in the field of cultural heritage preservation and on the state of archaeological educational support, respectively.
Guest speakers included Professor Emad Dawood and Professor Naeem Alshwaly, who are both pedagogy experts from the University of Thi-Qar located in Nasiriyah, the birthplace of the Mesopotamian civilization. They gave lectures on the understanding of local students and teachers in Iraq toward the heritage of the Mesopotamian civilization and what kind of support is being sought from Japan.
Finally, worth noting is how the attendees, including the guest speakers, engaged in a lively discussion about how Japan should be involved in Iraq’s cultural heritage preservation, history education, and manpower training. We hope that this symposium will serve as a first step toward international cooperation to restore post-war Iraq.