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Restoration vs Preservation: The Ex-Noguchi Room

You will likely already have some awareness of the relationship between preservation and restoration. In this Step, we’ll look at specific measures and records for restoration of the floor of the Ex-Noguchi Room (2008) carried out by restoration experts.
© Keio University

You will likely already have some awareness of the relationship between preservation and restoration.

In this Step, we’ll look at specific measures and records for restoration of the floor of the Ex-Noguchi Room (2008) carried out by restoration experts.

Restoration of the Floor of the Ex-Noguchi Room

This restoration focused on the wood flooring area of the floor in the Ex-Noguchi Room. It is believed that adhesive tape was affixed directly to the floor when dismantling and rebuilding the room, and thus the protective wax had been stripped at points all over the floor.

before restoration Condition of floor before restoration © Keio University Art Center

old wax Condition before removal of old wax. Protective wax was stripped at points all over the floor. © Keio University Art Center

Investigation

Surface wax was stripped off over a wide area, so it was decided the wax had to be removed. The first step was to determine which surface between the wax layer and the floor was the original layer. The wax was physically shaved off without chemicals by using flat scrapers made of acrylic and wood. When this was done, the exposed original floor material was found to be light-brown ash wood (Fraxinus platypoda Oliv.) just like the other furniture. Brown oil-based wax was applied in university classrooms, and it is thought that the same wax was applied for many years in the Ex-Noguchi Room. Therefore the original color of the floor planks could no longer be seen. Furthermore, brown-painted oak and zelkova planks were installed at places where floor planks had been lost.

Restoration Process of the Ex-Noguchi Room

To address the condition issues indicated above, the paint-colored surface was removed with files at the points where non-original planks were installed, and coloring was done with urethane-based varnish to match the surrounding hue. It was decided to not remove part of the old wax coated on the floor so it could be used as reference documentation. It was determined through the restoration that the color of the original floor material was light brown, and this harmonized with the ocher partition, and the ocher tile at the bottom of the central circular column. Therefore, we did not use brown wax for finishing. We went no further than coating with oil-based transparent wax to protect the surface.

Removing Removing old wax © Keio University Art Center

During removal During removal of old paint (left), coloring with urethane-based varnish to match the surrounding hue (right) © Keio University Art Center

Applying wax Applying wax to protect the surface © Keio University Art Center

left for documentary Part of the old wax was left for documentary purposes © Keio University Art Center

After restoration After restoration © Keio University Art Center

Records of the Restoration

Taking measures is not the end of restoration. The specifics of the restoration work are documented in detail in photos and videos, and described in a report. This restoration report is precious documentation recording the state of the piece, and observations about it, at that point in time. It serves as the foundation for all subsequent restoration and preservation. This allows us not only to keep pieces in better condition through restoration but also to form vital documentation regarding the applicable work through the accumulation of records.

References

  • Yoko Watanabe “Moving from Memory to Creation — Through Restoration of the Noguchi Room” (in Japanese), Digital Archives — Their Inheritance and Evolution, Keio University Digital Archive, Research Center Report (2006–2009), March 31, 2009, pp. 181–186.
  • Yoko Watanabe (Activity Report) “Keio Collections Research and Preservation Activities — Restoration Relating to the Noguchi Room (Banraisha)” (in Japanese), Keio University Art Center Annual Report, No. 15, 2008, pp. 65–69.
  • Yasuaki Miyazaki (Art Restoration Studio 21) “Restoration Report (Floor of the Banraisha)” (in Japanese), May 2008

*The restoration measures presented in this Step were carried out by Art Restoration Studio 21 Y.K.

© Keio University
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Invitation to Ex-Noguchi Room: Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties in Universities

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