海外美術品展示 国家補償制度は検討に値する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 20, 2010)

State backup needed to open art doors
海外美術品展示 国家補償制度は検討に値する(4月19日付・読売社説)

Museums, regardless of their size or location, are often crowded with visitors on the weekend. Many people will go on museum tours during the holiday-studded Golden Week starting late this month.

Exhibitions of foreign masterpieces, which are rarely available to the general public here, are magnets for huge crowds. An incredible 1.47 million visitors took in the Louvre Museum exhibitions held last year at the National Museum of Western Art and elsewhere.

Introducing outstanding foreign artwork to a wide spectrum of the population helps foster a rich cultural environment. But it requires painstaking negotiations with foreign museums before they will consent to loaning the precious exhibits under their care.

Japanese museums have fewer works that are worthy of being loaned in exchange for foreign art pieces. Furthermore, their location far from Europe and the United States also counts against them.


Joint sponsorships

Many Japanese museums lack the financial muscle and staff numbers of many of their U.S. and European counterparts. This makes it very difficult to singlehandedly organize and hold an art exhibition of a collection of foreign works in one place. Because of this, museums often turn to newspapers or TV networks--with their extremely public nature and established negotiation channels--to jointly sponsor such exhibitions.

These partnerships have forged a strong track record of bringing quality artwork to Japan and add credibility to the exhibitions.

But the government could be doing more to help grease the wheels of negotiation on the loaning of national-treasure class works. One such step would be guaranteeing state compensation if any loaned work is stolen or accidentally damaged.

This would also resolve the problem of the huge insurance premiums that museums must pay to borrow foreign masterpieces, an expense that can often derail planned exhibitions.

In its recommendation adopted in 1978 concerning the protection of movable cultural property, UNESCO showed its awareness of this point when it referred to the importance of ensuring state compensation for works of art.


Lagging behind

The Cultural Affairs Agency is indeed contemplating introducing a state compensation system.

Among the Group of Eight major powers, only Japan and Russia have yet to adopt such a system. The United States introduced a compensation system in 1975. Since then, it has approved about 40 exhibitions annually to be protected with state compensation. As of just recently, compensation totalling the equivalent of about 10 million yen had reportedly been paid in two cases.

Of course, exhibition organizers themselves must primarily bear the responsibility of paying for any damage that might occur to borrowed works. The scope of exhibitions subject to state compensation must be screened strictly. A ceiling must be set on the amount of compensation, too.

The introduction of a state compensation system, which would reassure overseas museums that loaning their treasures will not cost them anything, would likely increase opportunities for the Japanese public to see highly artistic works from overseas with their own eyes. It could even become a new cultural promotion measure.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 19, 2010)
(2010年4月19日01時11分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-04-20 10:48 | 英字新聞

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