Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 15
December 20, 2016 (Tue) - February 19, 2017 (Sun)
Tokyo National Museum has been deeply related with cultural heritage protection activities from its beginning. After the Jinshin Survey of 1872, told to be the first project for cultural heritage protection in Japan, followed the research which was carried out during the decade beginning from 1887.
The “Temporary National Survey of Treasures Bureau,” established in 1888 (Meiji 21), dispatched researchers across the country to conduct appraisals and registration of art objects. Kuki Ryuichi, the chairman, was also the head of the predecessor of the Tokyo National Museum, then known as the Museum Affiliated with the Archives and Artifacts Department of the Imperial Household Ministry. Names of other museum staff are listed as members of the bureau, and we see that the project was jointly run by the museum. The survey began in the Kinki region surrounding Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka, continuing west to the Chugoku region, Kyushu region and then east to the Tohoku region, extending entirely across the country. Furthermore, the headquarters of the bureau issued advertisements seeking for submissions for appraisals.
After the survey concluded, the remaining affairs and materials were transferred to the then Imperial Museum, which is now the Tokyo National Museum. The 5393 materials consisting of compiled records, dry glass plate negatives, and photograph prints, were designated as Important Cultural Property by the government in 2016, as precious materials that tell the history of cultural heritage protection.
This exhibition introduces the activities of the bureau which continued for 10 years and which the museum inherited, by looking at the documented materials with artworks that were surveyed.