Activity Report (1997) II. Cultural Preservation and Vitality


Publication of Report on Management of Community Museums (Japan)

¥ 3,527,631
Last year the Asia Center initiated a project to strengthen and encourage the development of community-focused cultural preservation in Asia. The project brought together at a two-week workshop in Japan participants from Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand to examine various models of "community museums" and to envision the role museums will play in their communities in the future. This year's follow-up enabled the publication of a book reporting on that workshop, Community Museums in Asia.


Representing "Cultures" in Museums (Japan)

¥ 6,876,037
The Asia Center co-organized this symposium at the Japan Foundation Forum in Tokyo in conjunction with the National Museum of Ethnology (Osaka) and the Setagaya Art Museum (Tokyo) to explore re-defining the concept of museums. A second symposium was held at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka and an exhibit was held at both museums. Participants in the Tokyo symposium came from museums, universities and research institutions in Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe and Oceania. They critically reconsidered the ways museums-formerly regarded as mere storehouses for the preservation and display of past or "other" cultures-can be used, or misused, as instruments for the representation of culture and for the representation of people's identities. The symposium was divided into three sessions: "Modernity and Museums," "Multiculturalism and Minorities," and "Hosts and Guests : Exhibitions for Whom?"


Support Program for Manuscript Preservation
Conservation of important historical documents and books in Asian countries is a major interest of the Asia Center in its cultural preservation and vitality program and we continued to support two efforts in this field in 1997: one a project to help develop future strategies in Myanmar (Burma), and the other to send a team of Japanese experts to carry out a survey in four Asian countries.


1. Conservation and Restoration of Traditional Manuscripts in Myanmar (Japan)

¥ 2,542,000
The Asia Center sent three Japanese experts to Myanmar (Burma) for a ten-day mission: a library conservator from the National Diet Library, an expert in proper environmental standards for paper-based materials from the Tokyo National Research Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and a professor of Burmese studies from Aichi University. Their mission was to provide workshops-e.g., on paper conservation-and to help the National Commission for Preservation and Conservation of Traditional Manuscripts in Myanmar with its future plans and strategies. As a result, a grant-funded project was later initiated in this fiscal year to inventory and microfilm Burmese manuscripts in monastery libaries (see page 55).


2. Conservation and Restoration of Historical Documents in Asian Countries (Japan)

¥ 4,423,400
This project, which is related to an Asia Center-grant supported project for preservation of manuscripts in Vietnam (see page 53), involved the sending of a research team of paper conservators and historians, on a three-week survey mission to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. They examined in Vietnam and China traditional techniques of paper-making, and in Indonesia and Malaysia surveyed the preservation conditions in archives and libraries. In Malaysia, too, they looked at training programs that have been developed in the field of library and archival conservation. The team hoped that the results of the survey would lead to a future project to examine in more detail the various Asian traditions of paper-making and book production, and also to provide useful recommendations on cooperation in the task of preserving paper-based records in Asia.


Symposium for the Conservation of Angkorian Sites (Japan)

¥ 5,094,219
Since peace was restored to Cambodia, many international organizations, private and public, have been actively helping the Cambodians to restore and preserve the world heritage site of Angkor Wat and surrounding monuments, an undertaking of enormous scope given their number, size and condition, and the strained capacity of the government's resources. Among the foreign organizations involved at Angkor several from Japan have been particularly active: the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA); the Nara National Research Institute of Cultural Properties; and the Sophia University International Angkor Mission. Encouraged by the success of a symposium organized by the Asia Center last year that took stock of the various conservation efforts at Angkor and to make them better known to the general public in Japan, the Asia Center this year organized another symposium. This year the focus was on Khmer art and architecture. Among the papers delivered, by Japanese speakers and one French expert, Dr. Bruno Bruguier of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, were "Khmer Sculpture," "Khmer Architecture Research Conservation," "Study of Khmer Ceramics," and "Architectural Aspects of Bayon Temple."

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