The Yomiuri ShimbunKYOTO — The opening ceremony of the 25th general conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) was held in Kyoto on Monday.
A record high of about 4,200 participants from 118 countries and territories are attending the conference, which kicked off Sunday and will run through Saturday.
Under the theme “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition,” participants will discuss a wide range of topics, such as challenges museums are facing today and what they should be like in the years to come.
In her speech at the opening ceremony at the Kyoto International Conference Center in Sakyo Ward, ICOM President Suay Aksoy said the preservation of cultural heritages, sustainability and climate change are among the most important themes for her organization, while also stressing the importance of holding democratic, highly transparent discussions.
The ceremony was also attended by Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko.
The crown prince, hoping that museums around the world will develop even more, said that museums as hubs for culture and academic research play the role of passing down human heritage and laying the foundations for the future.
The ceremony featured a noh performance in which living national treasure Okura Genjiro played a hand drum from the Edo period that is part of the Kyoto National Museum’s collection.
Following the opening ceremony, Kengo Kuma, the architect known for his extensive use of natural materials, delivered the keynote speech under the theme “The Age of Forest.”
Prior to the ceremony, the crown prince and crown princess visited some of the about 150 booths set up at the main venue by museums and corporate entities through Wednesday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun is one such entity as one of the top-level Platinum sponsors for ICOM Kyoto 2019. Its booth introduces the Tsumugu Project: Promoting, Restoring and Preserving the Beauty of Japan’s Art — a joint undertaking with the Cultural Affairs Agency and the Imperial Household Agency that focuses on repairing cultural properties. Information is also provided on the exhibitions of treasures from Nara’s Shosoin repository that will be held in Nara and Tokyo in October and November.
The crown prince and crown princess visited the booth and were briefed by Shoichi Oikawa, executive adviser and senior deputy editor-in-chief of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, and Takeshi Mizoguchi, president of The Yomiuri Shimbun Osaka. Oikawa is also the editor-in-chief of The Japan News.
According to officials, Crown Prince Akishino said that it is important to have a cycle of preserving, repairing and displaying cultural properties to the public in the Tsumugu Project.
Talk on Tsumugu
In the afternoon, The Yomiuri Shimbun hosted a session titled “Preserving and Handing Down Japanese Beauty,” which introduced the Tsumugu Project and discussed how important it is for the public and private sectors to work together in repairing and exhibiting cultural properties to the public.
During the session, Oikawa was joined by Ryohei Miyata, commissioner of the Cultural Affairs Agency, and Johei Sasaki, director of the Kyoto National Museum.
Oikawa said The Yomiuri Shimbun has been committed to helping protect and inherit cultural properties through its coverage and providing awards.
“This time, through the Tsumugu Project, a public-private initiative, we would like to be engaged in repairing and showing works to the public,” he added.
Sasaki said he is sure that museums joining hands with the Tsumugu Project will “facilitate cultural exchanges and contribute to the peace and happiness of humanity.”