Miyagi Network News vol.165 ~The Latter Part~

~The Exhibition in Sendai City Museum~
~The Participation in the restoration project for archives and the exhibition ‘Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’
                                                                                                                                    Ayako Itsuki
I had participated in the restoration project for archives by the National Archives of Japan from the end of January to the beginning of March. After that, I joined the exhibition ‘Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’ in Sendai City Museum’, as a receptionist.
It was my first knowledge through experiencing the restoration operation though, the historical materials affected by the Tsunami smelt like the sea. Because seawater might not easily be dried, in the case of the bulky documents, even if they had been dried they retained moisture like dryish paper. They were heavy and the pages were hard to peel off. Furthermore, the sludge from sea is different from pure sand firmly sticking to the documents.
During our activities, when I faced the materials, I often felt heartache due to the fierce power of the Tsunami. Among the materials, there were documents from which the water soon became full of mud and dirt even though I only lightly dipped them into water. Over and over again I removed the sludge and mud, which firmly adhered to the documents, with a brush and pallet called a spatula.

The Restoration Project for Archives

However, when we found the doodles on the old textbooks and the names on the graduation lists, which fell apart into pages, they produced a warm reaction as if we again meet old acquaintances. Moreover, we found the pressed flower between the pages in the textbook, which maybe a student put there long ago, we instinctively smiled. At the same time I felt it was part of his/her history because the textbook was filled with the person’s memories and a sense of time.

In terms of the exhibition, over 500 people per day on weekend visited us, and even on weekdays, approximately 300 people looked around our exhibition. Everyone earnestly saw the panel that introduced the restoration activities and the tools and apparatus which were actually used in the cleaning operation.
There were many people who eagerly asked us questions such as the methods of cleaning Japanese papers and the conditions before restoration operation. Among them there was a person whose house was affected by the Earthquake, but their archives were rescued by the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. He said he then had a difficult time, so he could actually do nothing for his archives by himself even though he had worried about it. When he was at a loss, the Miyagi Networksincerely helped him, and he was so grateful to the Network. In the exhibition that was comparing the materials after the cleaning operation with those before, people were impressed and said they ‘never thought that they would become clean like that’. Visitors from the young to the elderly rewarded us for our efforts and some said that they would like to join the restoration activities.

The Exhibition

I was really impressed by the visitors’ words when I participated there as a receptionist, such as the story of a person whose archives were actually rescued, and the conversation with people who got interested in our activities. Furthermore, young people who desperately questioned us moved us.
By the series of work for restoration and exhibition, I could meet various people, and they taught me the reason of our activities. The importance of the rescue operations for the historical materials and the exhibition for letting people know the operations. And I could understand our activities were supported by the museums, the Miyagi Network and many experts and voluntary workers. The activities requires much endurance and patience; I would like to continuously join the preservation activities for historical materials, with the hope to pass down them to the next future.

 

NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

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About Nerwork for Historical Materials
A volunteer group for preserving Cultural Heritage suffered from natural disasters

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