Up-Close and Personal: Curators' Treasures


Up-Close and Personal: Curators' Treasures

After nearly 3 months of enduring lockdown, museums and galleries in some parts of the UK are finally being given the go ahead to reopen and welcome visitors. Treasures will once again see the light of the day, inviting the curiosity of their viewers. Despite the great efforts of their curators, it is a common fact that each displayed object comprises only a part of a museum’s entire collection. For Japanese collections, this sometimes means that many fascinating objects may not have their chance to be shown often, however curators look for ways to make them accessible to audiences through store visits, talks, publications and online presentations.

In light of this, and reflecting on current circumstances, the Japan Foundation has invited a number of curators from various museums and art galleries in England to introduce their “favourite Japanese objects” which you may have never come across before, in this on-line seminar. These curators are Janet Boston, Rosie Gnatiuk, Clare Pollard, Kate Newnham, and Rachel Barclay. From antiquity to modern design, they will explain the reasons for their love as well as reveal the story of the objects which you may never have known otherwise.

Further, together with Yoshi Miki, who has done extensive research on Japanese collections in the UK, as moderator, they will discuss the ways in which objects of Japanese culture in museums and galleries, including their favourites, should be made the most of in the scope of the coming “new normal”.

Join us to hear these curators’ passion and to consider together the ways in which we should cherish our treasures.


Yoshi Miki, Curatorial Consultant, and Visiting Professor, National Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, oversees the UK project “Research and Use of overseas Japanese artefacts and documents", funded by the National Institute for the Humanities since 2011. He co-curated a special exhibition "KIZUNA Japan Wales Design" at the National Museum Wales in 2018. He worked for Museums in the US and Canada for many years before he became Head of Curatorial at Kyushu National Museum in 2002-2006. He lives in San Francisco.


Dr Clare Pollard is Curator of Japanese Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University ’s museum of art and archaeology and Britain’s first public museum. The Ashmolean is home to an extensive collection of Japanese art, including ceramics, lacquer, paintings, prints, sword furniture and decorative arts of the Meiji era (1868-1912). Clare’s research has focused mainly on Meiji art, while in recent years she has developed a series of exhibitions and catalogues of the Ashmolean’s Japanese print collections.

Kate Newnham is Senior Curator, Visual Arts at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. In addition to leading the art team she has curatorial responsibility for the Asian art collection, Designated as being of national/international importance. There are over 1,200 Japanese objects in the collection with highlights being netsuke, 18th-century woodblock prints and porcelain from the Irene Finch collection. Recently Kate has worked on a successful series of Japanese print exhibitions and an associated haiku competition.

Rachel Barclay is Curator of the Oriental Museum, Durham University. Rachel has led the programme to redisplay all of the Museum’s permanent galleries as well as managing the museum’s programme of temporary exhibitions and art installations. She has overseen the expansion of the Japanese collections with the acquisition of major new collections of prints and ceramics. She is currently partnering with the National Museum of Japanese History on an exhibition and catalogue for a collection of Japanese woodblock prints.

Janet Boston is Curator of Craft and Design, and Rosie Gnatiuk is Curator of Costume at the Manchester Art Gallery. The Gallery is the original useful museum, initiated in 1823 by artists, as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health and productivity. The gallery’s Japanese collections include ceramics, metalwork, glass, furniture, lighting, fashion and prints. The gallery has recently acquired contemporary Japanese work in all of these subjects except prints.

Image credits (left to right):

Starry Night Trail, 2009 by Ayako Tani, glass ©️Manchester Art Gallery

Porcelain vase with 'peach bloom, glaze, H.6.4cm, Gift of Sir Herbert and Lady Ingram, EA1956.682 ©️Ashmolean Museum

The Battle of Komaki: Kato Kiyomasa and Honda Tadakatsu, 1899, by Chikanobu Yōshū ©︎Oriental Museum

The objects represented in the image above are not necessarily the ones which will be discussed during the event.

Please note that this session will be hosted on Zoom.

Date: 5 August 2020 from 6.00pm

For more information, please click here.



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