Museum tours in English: early Japanese photography (Thurs. April 13 and Fri. April 14)

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Ambrotype portrait of Toyoko, wife of Matsudaira Tadanari, Yamanouchi Studio, c. 1868-1882.

Please join me this week, at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum in Ebisu Garden Place, on Thursday April 13 at 4 pm or Friday April 14, 2017 at 6 pm, when I’ll give guided tours in English of  the exhibition, Dawn of Japanese Photography: The Anthology.  The tours are free with regular museum admission (700 yen for adults, less if you’re a student or over 60) and open to everyone without reservations.

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Some of the photographs are exhibited in freestanding cases so you can see both front and back. It’s important to view photographs as objects as well as images!

The exhibition presents the highlights and latest findings of a ten-year project to survey and catalog holdings of early Japanese photographs in museums, libraries and schools throughout Japan. Our understanding of the history of early photography in Japan is constantly expanding and being updated — this project turned up many previously unknown yet very important works, which we’ve brought together so you can see and learn.

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Daguerreotype portrait of Tanaka Mitsuyoshi taken in 1854 by Eliphalet M. Brown Jr., official photographer to Commodore Perry.  Private collection.

If you’ve been on my museum tours before, you know they are lively and informal. I try to keep keep things accessible for total beginners while offering new information and insights for those who may be already deep into the subject matter. There are lots of interesting “firsts” to see in this exhibition, including the first photographs taken of a Japanese person as well as the first photographs taken by a Japanese person. (Quiz question: do you think these “firsts” were taken on Japanese soil or overseas?)

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Albumen print showing damage to a shrine caused by the Shonai earthquake of 1894. Photographer unknown. Collection of the Homma Museum of Art in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture.

You don’t need to contact me to get a space; just turn up! Each tour will last 50-60 minutes, but it’s fine to leave earlier if you’re pressed for time. Thursday’s tour is likely to be less crowded than Friday, just because of the time. The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum  — yes, this is the same museum that used to be called the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography — is about a 10-minute walk from JR Ebisu Station (through the covered SkyWalk walkway) and about 12-minutes from Ebisu station on the Hibiya subway line.  We will assemble in the third-floor lobby outside the exhibition.

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3 Responses to Museum tours in English: early Japanese photography (Thurs. April 13 and Fri. April 14)

  1. Thomas Gittel says:

    Hi Alice! I’ll be there on Friday at 6pm. Looking forward to it!

  2. Anthony says:

    I so wish I could be there. I am a big fan of your work Alice–I miss your “what the heck is that” column quite a bit. I hope the tours are a big success.

  3. Alice says:

    Thanks, Thomas! Thanks, Anthony!

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