Innovating Tradition: Conservation of Japanese Scroll Paintings in Britain

Third Thursday Lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 21 February, 2013
6:00pm GMT


Keisuke Sugiyama (Senior Conservator of Japanese Paintings, Hirayama Studio, The British Museum)

Every Third Thursday of the month, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures hosts a lecture on a topic related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential.

To book a seat email us at or fax 01603 625011 up to two days before the lecture stating your name, number of seats required and a contact number. Unless indicated otherwise the lectures are held at the Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH. The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

About the Lecture

The British Museum’s Hirayama Studio is responsible for the care and preservation of over 5,000 Japanese paintings on paper and silk. The conservation of these paintings began in the early 20th century and a specialist Eastern Pictorial Art Conservation Section was created in 1980. Since then Museum staff have conserved and mounted paintings in the manner practiced in Japan and kept abreast of information about new materials and techniques in Japan. Japanese paintings conservation and mounting is a centuries-old craft and the skill and techniques are learned over a ten-year apprenticeship system. This tradition may seem conservative but has been changing with the influence from western conservation in the last fifty years. It is getting more academic and the conservator’s job is becoming well known in public eye, however does this mean a decline in skills? This talk will describe the museum conservator’s work with practical treatment examples from a current collaborative project with Japanese colleagues and introduce the Japanese apprenticeship system from the speaker’s experience.

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