This documents is a summary of public programs (Talk Sessions and MAMxRIKEN Science Seminars) organized in conjunction with the exhibition, 溺edicine and Art: Imagining a Future for Life and Love ・Leonardo da Vinci, Okyo, Damien Hirst・at Mori Art Museum. The Programs were planned and realized with assistance of RIKEN.

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MAMC Annual Cocktail Party 2009

The MAMC Annual Cocktail Party is an event held each year for MAMC Benefactor and Fellow members. This year it was held after the museum closed on Tuesday, 8 December.

Before the party commenced a "Pre-Party Gallery Talk" was held, with Mori Art Museum project manager Hirose Mami, who was in charge of the "Medicine and Art" exhibition, conducting a tour.
Nowadays the fields of "medicine" and "art" are poles apart, but there was a time when they were closely related. This becomes clear after viewing the dozens of "paintings" on display that depict elements of the human anatomy. The beauty of an "artificial leg" depicted in Ninagawa Mika's photographs, a wheelchair that can be controlled by human brain waves, experimental works involving cell cultivation: A fantastic variety of work was introduced, all of it opening our eyes to completely new ideas.

Gallery tour by Hirose Mami

As the talk concluded, the party commenced. The museum's final gallery, where we often show videos via a large overhead projector, was on this evening lined with carefully prepared tables. The ever-glamorous Fran輟ise Mor馗hand and the entertaining Hibino Katsuhiko ・both MAMC Honorary Members ・were in attendance, helping to create a mood of elegance and fun. To commence proceedings, museum director Nanjo Fumio made a short speech, chairperson Mori Yoshiko made a toast, and soon the room was filled with the hum of conversation. Even members who were experiencing the Annual Cocktail Party for the first time didn't find it hard to strike up conversations with other members. After all, it was plain that all attendees had at least one interest in common: art!

After a little while, museum senior curator Kataoka Mami made a short announcement about the museum's exhibition lineup for 2010. With the underlying theme of "redefining Japan," the exhibitions will include many exciting young local artists. The talk was full of reasons to look forward to the next twelve months. (Information on next year's exhibitions.)

One very special highlight of the evening was the recital by a string quartet from the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. The players had selected music on the themes of "life" and "love" ・the same themes as "Medicine and Art." A hush came over the room as the players ・each in neat uniforms ・took to the stage. Then, one after the other came familiar tunes: "Spring" (composed by Vivaldi), "Salut d'Amour" (Elgar), and so on. Laughter filled the room when the famous aria "Nessun dorma" ("None Shall Sleep"; Puccini) was introduced as "the Ina Bauer song" ・a reference to figure skater Arakawa Shizuka's combination of the music with the Ina Bauer skating maneuver. Despite some solemn music, the salon-style recital was intimate and very impressive. In an encore, the quartet reminded us all of the season with a rendition of "White Christmas," and thus brought to an end their 30-minute performance.
After the recital a surprise prize-draw was held and three lucky guests were awarded pairs of tickets to a special performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by the orchestra.

Nanjo Fumio, Director, chats with participants
A string quartet by members of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra

To conclude, the museum's general manager, Takahashi Shinya delivered a speech expressing our appreciation to all our members and the very pleasant evening came to an end.

We at MAMC are currently preparing another busy year of art and activities for our members in 2010. Our next MAMC Night, scheduled for January, will feature a special gallery talk exclusively for members. Providing a different perspective on the "Medicine and Art" exhibition, the talk will explore one facet of the museum's inner workings. We hope all our members will be able to join us. And it might be a good opportunity for those who still haven't joined us to sign up! (Details on MAMC Night)

Erikawa Fumie
MAMC Membership Program
Mori Art Museum

Members-Only MAMC Night "Behind the Scenes Talk: The Queen's Da Vinci Comes to Town!"

Our members-only MAMC Nights are held once only during each exhibition. The latest was held on Tuesday, 19 January, coinciding with our current exhibition, "Medicine and Art."

Over 100 members braved the cold weather to attend the event. Some had dressed up for the occasion, others were in casual clothes or business suits. A wide range of age groups was represented, too. What all the participants had in common, of course, was an interest in art, as could be seen by the they enjoyed the exhibition and the evening's proceedings.

Not your average gallery talk
The first program of the night was a gallery talk by Mori Art Museum Project Manager and 溺edicine and Art " curator Hirose Mami. As well as describing the historical context of each work, Hirose provided fascinating and unusual insights into the works on display.

For example, Hirose explained that in the past it was believed that the letters written on Leonardo da Vinci's works concealed a kind of code ・that they had been made deliberately difficult to read. The truth is, however, that Leonardo da Vinci, who was left-handed, actually found it easier to write from right to left and backwards, as though writing in a mirror.

Hearing this kind of episode gave everyone a deeper understanding of the artworks.

The participants enjoy the talk conducted by Hirose.

Museums aren't just about curators
In the second program for the night we welcomed the museum conservator, Aizawa Kunihiko. He began his talk by explaining that the job of the conservator is twofold: to preserve the artworks in the museum's care, and to restore them if the need arises. Perhaps the most important aspect of the job, however, is to maintain an environment within the museum in which the chance of damage coming to the artworks is as small as possible.

One example of this work is to maintain strict control of the temperature and humidity within the museum. Sudden changes in either are likely to damage the artworks. The Mori Art Museum has a network of wall-mounted sensors that monitor the galleries and maintain a steady temperature and humidity 24 hours a day. As the sensors are connected wirelessly to a central computer, they can be positioned freely throughout the museum. Aizawa explained that when a particularly delicate work, such as the current Leonard da Vinci pieces, is on display he can position the sensors in the immediate vicinity of the artwork to keep close tabs on its immediate environment. Aizawa also explained the measures employed at the museum against insects and earthquakes ・all were so discreet that few visitors noticed them until they were pointed out. Of course, for Aizawa, an important consideration is to maintain the safety of the artworks, but at the same time he must help to provide an enjoyable experience for the visitors.

Aizawa revealed a whole aspect of the museum's activities that is usually hidden from view, providing a "behind-the-scenes" talk in the truest sense of the term.

Further documentation from Aizawa's talk will be uploaded to the "Mori Art Museum Official Blog" in the near future. (Japanese only.)

Aizawa explains about the important role of the conservator.

Photo: Mikuriya Shinichiro