Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rotating the collections: Samurai, Part Deux

Light sensitive objects must be rotated to prevent damage. The list of sensitive objects includes paintings, textiles, lacquers, and most other objects composed of organic materials. The Asian is being careful with the mid-point rotation of the Samurai exhibit to fit objects into the existing thematic content and flow of the exhibit. When possible, they try and rotate objects of similar type, function, and subject.

Portrait of Hosokawa Shigekata (1720-1785) (left) will be replaced with a Portrait of Hosokowa Tsunatoshi (right). © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

With so many unique objects, sometimes no direct substitute is available. In such situations they choose replacement objects that support the theme considered in a particular part of the exhibition. For example, the leisure activities of the Daimyo are represented by a Go game board and go stone containers in the first rotation (left), and an Incense ceremony box and implements in the upcoming rotation (right). © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Some rotations involve objects with similar functions but different forms, such as this Commander’s Baton (saihai) (left) used by Hosokawa Narimori (1804-1860) being replaced by a Folding Military Fan (gunsen) (right). Both objects are used to communicate on the battlefield. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Some objects rotate without ever leaving the gallery. For The Book of Five Rings (Gorin no sho), they will change each of the five scrolls to display a new section of text. Rolled up, the previously displayed sections will be safely protected from continued light exposure.

Because they prefer not to close the galleries during the exhibit, the rotations will be done after house. As a result, the rotation will be spread out over several days. Over the next week or so, you may notice that some galleries have been rotated and others are still waiting their turn. You may even find a case to have a temporarily vacant spot. Don’t worry, it won’t be empty for long!

Because of the extreme delicacy and importance of many of these treasures, the rotation process needs to be undertaken slowly and deliberately. They are scheduled to have completed the rotation by the time that the museum opens on Tuesday, August 11. On that date, be prepared for a fresh look at Lords of the Samurai.

From the Asian Art Museum Blog:

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