Lords of the Samurai, Round 2

With our presentation of Lords of the Samurai approaching the halfway point, museum staff are busy preparing for a complex rotation in which nearly sixty objects will be removed from the galleries and replaced with a second selection of artwork.  This weekend will be the last chance to see the full first set of objects before this process begins. (The remaining fifty or so objects currently on view—including the six suits of armor and all of the sword blades—will stay on view for the entire exhibition).

Just as with our regular gallery rotations, we rotate objects because they are light-sensitive. The list of sensitive objects includes paintings, textiles, lacquers, and most other objects composed of organic materials. However, a mid-point special exhibition rotation differs slightly from our permanent gallery rotations because the new objects have to fit into the existing thematic content and flow of the exhibition. With so many unique works on view, this can make object selection a little bit tricky.

Portrait of Hosokawa Shigekata (1720-1785) (left) will be replaced with a Portrait of Hosokowa Tsunatoshi (right). When possible, we try and rotate objects of similar type, function, and subject. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Portrait of Hosokawa Shigekata (left) will be replaced with a Portrait of Hosokowa Tsunatoshi (right). When possible, we try and rotate objects of similar type, function, and subject. © 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 rotations involve objects with similar functions but different forms, such as this Commander’s Baton (left) being replaced by a Folding Military Fan (right). Both objects are used to communicate on the battlefield. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Textiles are among the most light-sensitive of artworks. The large cavalry standard on the left will be replaced by the standard on the right for the second rotation. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Textiles are among the most light-sensitive of artworks. The large cavalry standard on the left will be replaced by the standard on the right for the second rotation. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

With so many unique objects, sometimes no direct substitute is available. In such situations we 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.

With so many unique objects, sometimes no direct substitute is available. Curators choose replacements that support a theme or fit into the flow 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 objects rotate without ever leaving the gallery. For The Book of Five Rings (Gorin no sho), we 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. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Some objects rotate without ever leaving the gallery. For The Book of Five Rings (Gorin no sho), we 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. © Eisei Bunko, Japan.

Because we prefer not to close the galleries during the rotation period, museum staff will be working their magic during the hours when we are normally closed to the public. 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!

Please bear with us during this process. Because of the extreme delicacy and importance of many of these treasures, the rotation process needs to be undertaken slowly and deliberately. We 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.

One Response to “Lords of the Samurai, Round 2”

  1. xensen  on July 30th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Love the comparison of first/second rotation objects — thanks!


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