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This is taken (stolen) directly from the International Council of Museums Discussion Listserv.  It may be of interest.


From: International Council of Museums Discussion List [mailto:ICOM-L@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM] On Behalf Of Eiji Mizushima
Subject: Current situation on Japanese Museum Report 4 by Dr.Mizushima (Japan)

Dear my colleagues, Dear my friends,

This is the 4th report from Japan on current situations. One month has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which caused over 12,915 people (as of 9th April)to lose their lives in the enormous earthquake and tsunamis that struck. Even now, over 14,921 people remain unaccounted for, and about 160,000 people remain forced to take shelter as evacuees.

Reporting to you has delayed a little bit because Agency for Cultural Affairs starts up the cultural property rescue team on March 31, and I was supporting the person afterwards. Hereafter, it reports.

1. General Information on Support from Foreign Countries
You will easily imagine how many countries endeavor to support for the damaged sites, villages and towns as follows;
Map of rescue team’s operation
http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/incidents/pdfs/map_operations.pdf
*Schedule of Operations of Rescue Teams from Foreign Countries, Regions and International Organizations (as of 8th April)*
http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/incidents/pdfs/rescue.pdf
As of April 6, 130 countries, regions and international organizations have expressed their intention to support. Here is a list of relief goods from overseas ;
http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/incidents/pdfs/r_goods.pdf

2. Received e-mail from foreign countries

I received many e-mails with sympathies and encouragement at the earthquake occurrence of last month. But recently, the number of e-mails of the inquiry from an overseas museum has increased. The character of e-mail has taken the place like wanting you to offer information because it has been struck though the museum in Japan cooperates as a sister museum.
To our regret, I of ICOM Japanese National Committee am taking charge for making a report of this kind because there is no international committee in Japanese Association of Museums.
The situation of the museum in Japan is not understood when seeing from foreign countries, and I want to get e-mail without holding back when there is a museum about which it worries in you.
Hereafter, it does with mail from foreign countries that I got. Only the name of a country is put here. I put it on the website of JMMA (Japan Museum Management Academy) as the first presentation. The second one will be published in a few days.

http://www.jmma-net.jp/katudou/jisin.pdf

Up to now, we received e-mail from 25 countries, 5 international committee, 14 ICOM National Committee, and 5 organizations.

  • China and Taiwan / South Korea / Lao PDR / France / Italy / Germany / Swiss / UK / Netherland / Sweden / Croatia / Monaco / Greece / Czech Republic / Ukraina / Algeria / USA / Canada / Mexico / Brazil / Peru / Barbados / Tonga / Australia / Mauritania
  • ICOFOM / CIMAM / CIDOC / UMAC / ICDAD /
  • ICOM- Germany / ICOM -US / ICOM-UK / ICOM-Ireland / ICOM- Korea / ICOM Sri Lanka / ICOM-Mexico / ICOM-Mongolia / ICOM-Brazil / ICOM- Montenegro / ICOM Bolivia / ICOM Moldova / ICOM Bosnia and Herzegovina / ICOM Panamá
  • Collections Trust / National Park Service / American Association of Museums / Association of Museums in Puerto Rico (AMPR) / Sino-American Field School of Archaeology

3. The Current situation on museums in Northeast area

Intensely in the damage of the museum, the museum of Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, and Ibaraki Prefecture in four prefectures is the great deal of harms more than the expectation as for the whole image of struck though grasp has not arrived. It is thrown because of the tsunami and there is a disappearing museum, too. I think that it takes a lot of time and incredible budget for restoration.

The urgent rescue team that Agency for Cultural Affairs organized on 31 March is now advancing the damage situation of the historical architectures and tangible cultural properties toward the Northeast. Social infrastructures such as electricity, gases, and roads are maintained from the safety of the endangered life, and our eyes are reflecting in being in striking of the cultural asset as for the next step.
If my analyses are appropriate, we are now moving from a first phase of disaster to second phase of recovering.  However it is very sorry to say that, originally, the culture gives us some healing to our daily life in our national life, but now, culture itself seems to have disappeared.

http://www.bunka.go.jp/bunkazai/tohokujishin_kanren/pdf/bunkazai_rescue_jigyo.pdf

The greater part of the area has been affected by the earthquake and Tsunami. Even today, we can not contact with some museums.
The current situation of damaged museums. However we set up the website.
(But sorry there is only Japanese version.)

We are very happy to inform you that ‘Struck, rescue information site’ is set up in *saveMLAK-museum*, museum, library, and archives and public hall (MLAK).

A East Japan great earthquake was happened, and “Struck and rescue information site in saveMLAK-museum, art museum, library, archives, and public hall (MLAK)” (hereafter, saveMLAK) that consolidated struck information and rescue information on the above-mentioned, each facilities was established in parties concerned and those who supported it in museum, library, archives, and public hall (Kominkan ; community center) (hereafter, MLAK).

Struck and rescue information site

http://savemlak.jp

http://savemlak.jp/wiki/SaveMLAK

SaveMLAK is a site in which it aimed to support the culture and the history of the ruined area, to collect struck and rescue information on the museum, the library, the archives, and the public hall where the role as the exchange, study, and the information base in the region has been being played, and to share the information.

Struck information is roughly consolidated now, and consolidating rescue information that the locale needs is being advanced.
Many have already gotten volunteer’s offer from a lot of people related to MLAK and those who support it by having expertise, and a local reconstruction support is advanced while attempting an appropriate match of the locale and the volunteer.

However, the stricken area is cut still in pieces, and, as you know, exists in a situation not clear to support by the necessity in the locale. I will welcome a positive dissemination from individual people to say nothing of each company in the report because information on the support that the locale needs is collected and sent positively by us in saveMLAK.

Moreover, the offer of the volunteer involved in the reconstruction support for the victim and the stricken area by facilities of MLAK, the revival of the function, and it also accepts continuously.

I will hold urgent discussion “We can do the East Japan great earthquake struck support and MLAK? now” in Gakushuin University (Mejiro,
Tokyo) on the coming Saturday, April 23.

4. Some concrete problems ( to be continued)

(1) Cancel of the temporary exhibitions : Discontinuance and postponed art exhibition (as of 11 April)

– The export of all works of art for Japan stop instruction is announced officially, and because it becomes impossible to compose the art exhibition under the present situation, it discontinues by the influence of the nuclear plant accident, due to Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art “Birth of the impressionist school” exhibition (schedule from April 5 to June 12)  accounts for 60% of the entire French exhibition work.

– It is judged that holding is difficult because French authorities prohibited the work transportation to Japan and the museum attendant’s making a passage due to the influence and the nuclear plant accident, Yamanashi Prefectural Art Museum “Maurice Denis exhibition” and (schedule from April 16 to June 12)  and discontinues it.

– Because the judgment that the work cannot be lent to Japan considering various situations such as the earthquake, tsunamis, and nuclear accidents from Yokohama Museum of Art “Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts exhibition. ”
(schedule from April 2 to June 26).  Russian Federation cultural ministry and Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts now was told, holding is postponed. (The possibility of holding it greatly changing, and renewing the entire session is being examined. )

– Lend of the work being feared from Italy and this country Morandi museum in Toyota Municipal Museum of Art “Giorgio Morandi exhibition ” (schedule from April 9 to May 29), and undertaking insurance from the insurance company are the notification with impossibility, and discontinue holding at current year.

– The Mitsui commemoration museum “Hokusai ”  (schedule from April 16 to June 19) Holding is discontinued by “Circumstances on the Honolulu museum side due to a East Japan great earthquake”.

– The Nezu Art Museum postponed “KORIN exhibition “( schedule from April 16 to May 15)

②Financial Problem

The relief and condolence money from foreign countries drawn to Japan Red Cross is gathering, too. However, the relief and condolence money through Japan Red Cross is not distributed to a damaged museum nor to movable collections at all. That money goes to the infrastructure maintenance, redevelopment of the city and towns, and the temporary shelter to people who are taking shelter in solatia, the living fund, and the stricken area.

Then, the problem came to light again here though the emergency meeting some days ago held in Japanese Association of Museums.
These relief and condolence money will be the money intended for the member of the Japanese Association of Museums, also is calling for the fund-raising of the relief and condolence money. Money doesn’t turn to the non-member museum.

This also does the budget request from summer to autumn this year ( it is too late ! ), and moreover, the budget will descend after autumn though Agency for Cultural Affairs investigates the struck situation now, and the supplementary budget will be united. But, only a public museum is a target in this supplementary budget, and money doesn’t turn to the private museum (as of 11 April). Little being turned is a fact in the personal property material and the collection in the supplementary budget of Agency for Cultural Affairs, though a lot of money might chiefly turn to the building and the real estate(architectural heritage).

There is a public museum of the local government. But for the lifeline, local authorities spend much money of course. This means there is no cultural budget for the revival of the museums. We have a big problem at the time being, for the priority issue. The revival of daily life and/or the revival of damaged museums in which it is struck. This is starting point and gradually we are facing the problems, aftershock still continues in Northeast Japan.

Even the arrangement of material to be struck and the cardboard box for the interim storage cannot be bought. This is a reality that understands now since three weeks pass.

Some museum are preparing to close the door permanently, for example, my university has ‘Museum of Museology’. But the COE says the priority is a recovery of the building for the students and because of the shortage of the budget for running cost of the museum, the president of the university will decide within a spring semester to close the Museum of Museology, which is a unique in Japan and rare museum in the world.
Concerning this problem, I will let you know more detail in next report.
Please help us and support for the museum.

③ Conservation problem and difficulties for keeping the conservational environment

Because of the shortage of the electricity by the continuous troubles and accident by the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, Japanese Government anticipate the shortage of the electricity in this summer. At present, nobody in museum dosen’t care about the conservational problems. But last year, there were 60-day or more intense heat that exceeded 35 degrees in three months from May to August last year. So, we will have to discuss about the this issues soon.
If there are some collection from abroad in Northeast museum, please contact the museum where you have been contacting with.
If it is too difficult to contact, I will strive to contact between you and your partner museum as possible as I can. Do not hesitate to ask me. (mizushima.eiji@gmail.com or mizushima@mvj.biglobe.ne.jp)

5. The Law of National Indemnity for Fine Arts Exhibitions

But at the same time, I am happy to inform you that ” The Law of National Indemnity for Fine Arts Exhibitions” was passed on 25 March 2011.This Law bill is concerning the promotion of opening to the public about an overseas work of art etc. in our country

6. Logistical support system and Organizing of private organization

Whether it was an organization of the cultural property rescue team of Agency for Cultural Affairs was done. Therefore, the private company, the exhibiting company, the university, and the academic society are concentrated, and the system to support the cultural asset rescue as a logistical support is straightened. This project team was done by me.

It was very difficult to collect the carton boxes for the damaged collection in the site. But thanks to this project support team, we have collected 20,000 carton boxes for first-aid and I sent to Sendai Municipal Museum. But it is not enough. We are continuously trying to check the relief goods for damaged museums.

This report is as of 11 April and probably there is a bad translation.
Please forgive me my mistakes.

Once again, I appreciate your support and your encouraging e-mail.


Prof.Dr.MIZUSHIMA
mizushima.eiji@gmail.com
Tokiwa University
Dean, Graduate School of Community Development Director, Museum of Museology 1-430-1, Miwa, Mito, Ibaraki JAPAN, 310-8585

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