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The Bureau for the Temporary National Survey of Treasures: Researching Artifacts in Late 19th Century Japan

The Bureau for the Temporary National Survey of Treasures: Researching Artifacts in Late 19th Century Japan / Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 15   December 20, 2016 (Tue) - February 19, 2017 (Sun)

 Image of "Red and White Cotton Roses (detail), By Li Di, Southern Song dynasty, dated 1197 (National Treasure, On exhibit through January 9, 2017)" 
Red and White Cotton Roses (detail), By Li Di, Southern Song dynasty, dated 1197 (National Treasure, On exhibit through January 9, 2017)

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.
 

 Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
 Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Red and White Cotton Roses, By Li Di, Southern Song dynasty, dated 1197 (National Treasure, On exhibit through January 9, 2017)
Detailed Catalogue of Artifacts in the Tokyo District Volume 2, Meiji era, 19th century (Important Cultural Property, On exhibit through January 9, 2017)
Certificate of Appraisal, Red and White cotton Roses, March 17, 1893 (On exhibit through January 9, 2017)
Registry of Appraisals by Numbers, 5744-7450, Meiji era, 19th century (Important Cultural Property, On exhibit through January 9, 2017)
Letter, By Shibayama Nobutoyo (1612-90), Edo period, dated 1664 (Gift of Mrs. Tsuishu Tsuruko)
References for Categorizing Materials, Compiled by the Artifact Appraisal Department, 1899 (Important Cultural Property)

Related Events

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 15  December 20, 2016 (Tue)   14:00 - 14:30   RESERVE_DAY
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