Reports on Conferences and Publications by Year

June 9, 2014

Durham University Study Day: Researching and Using Japanese Collections in Museums

Conducted by National Museum of Japanese History (Hidaka, "General Coordinating Team")

Venue: Palace Green Library, Durham University (UK)

Organizers: Durham University and NIHU

Attendees: 50 people

NIHU Participants:Junichi Okubo (NMJH), Kaori Hidaka (NMJH), Yoshihiro Miki (NMJH), Miki Sakuraba (NMJH)


The current "Study Day" was held at the invitation of Rachel Barclay, curator the Durham University Oriental Museum, who expressed interest in planning a new seminar following the successful reception of a seminar co-organized in London last November by the Japan Foundation (London Office) and NIHU.

The Durham University Oriental Museum is a leading museum in northeastern England. The area has more than 30 museums, castles, and residences with Japan collections. Although Japan-related materials are on permanent exhibition, there are few Japan specialists and information on recent developments can be hard to obtain. Bringing together people involved with these collections, this regional seminar shared information on digitizing and exhibiting Japanese materials, as well as how to use such materials in educational activities.

The seminar was attended by around 50 people, including curators, collections managers, educators and university students. Presentations were delivered by Junichi Okubo, Kaori Hidaka, and Yoshihiro Miki of the National Museum of Japanese History, National Institutes of the Humanities. Okubo and Hidaka, who lectured on ukiyo-e and lacquer ware, respectively, were careful to provide information that would help local curators and collections managers make best use of their Japan collections. Miki discussed the current state of surveys of Japan collections in the UK and outlined various issues involved in their cataloging and use in educational activities.

Presentation by Kaori Hidaka

Panel discussion (from the left: Rachel Barclay, Yoshihiro Miki, Greg Irvine (V&A Asia Department))

At present, the number of Japanese corporations locating new business offices and plants in northeastern England is on the rise. As a result, the number of Japanese families in the area is also growing. Hence the museums, which have strong ties to their local communities, are hoping to increase opportunities to introduce Japan's culture in their exhibitions. This represents an excellent chance to promote awareness and use of Japan collections across the region. The seminar was designed to provide useful information for such purposes.

Before and after the event, there was also time to survey Japan collections at the Durham University Oriental Museum, as well as other area museums and residences. Joined by Miki Sakuraba (NMJH), the survey was able to take a more comprehensive approach that produced good results.

Representatives from Durham University have expressed their hopes for further joint activities in the future.

(Text: Miki)

Presentation by Rachel Barclay

Presentation by Junichi Okubo

Presentation by Yoshihiro Miki


Presenters and Topics


Welcome and introduction
Professor Janet Stewart – Director of the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures, Durham University


Creating a new permanent gallery focused on Japan
Rachel Barclay – Deputy Curator of University Museums, Durham University


Using Japanese collections for object based learning with schools
Sarah Price – Durham University, Learning and Engagement


Japanese collections in historic house contexts
Andrew MacLean – National Trust


Creating a temporary exhibition including loans of Japanese objects
Janet Boston, Curator: collections access, Manchester City Galleries


Q&A – curators/collections manager from institutions with Japanese collections are encouraged to share brief information about their holdings at this point


National Museum of Japanese History

  • Dr. Jun'ichi Okubo, Professor and Deputy Director. Specialist in woodblock prints.
  • Dr. Kaori Hidaka, Professor. Expert in Japanese lacquer.
  • Mr. Yoshi Miki, Curatorial Consultant and Visiting Professor. Undertaking the survey work on Japanese collections in the UK.


Panel discussion


Studying Japanese Language and Culture in Durham
Mr. Alex Harrington and Mr Don Starr – Durham University, School of Modern Languages and Cultures


Round-up and close


Talk by Greg Irvine, Senior Curator in the V&A’s Asia Department about The Seven Treasures exhibition