3. How to search for information about exhibitions

Table of contents:

3.1 About exhibition information

Exhibition information primarily refers to the five following items of information.

  • Exhibition dates and locations
  • Works featured at exhibitions
  • Artists featured at exhibitions
  • Written materials created for the exhibition
  • Brief reviews that evaluate the exhibition (exhibition reviews)

The following section introduces you to how to find information about exhibitions held at museums, etc.

3.2 Finding information on exhibitions held at museums

Many exhibitions are held at museums across the country, and various methods of acquiring exhibition information exist. As some information may not be found at our library, this section will guide you on how to obtain information from external sources by using the Internet and other art libraries.

Starting with how to find the exhibition catalogues, which is the most important source of information about exhibitions, this guide will take you step by step through the process of finding past exhibition information, current exhibition information, and scheduled exhibition information.

3.2.1 Finding exhibition catalogues

You can also conduct searches on websites of art university libraries and public libraries. You can use OPAC to check bibliographic information in addition to exhibition dates and locations.

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Library (http://www.library.metro.tokyo.jp/)
  • Joshibi University of Art and Design Library (http://library.joshibi.ac.jp/)
  • Tama Art University Library (https://www.tamabi.ac.jp/tosho/)
  • Tokyo University of the Arts. University Library (https://www.lib.geidai.ac.jp/)
  • Tokyo Zokei University Library (https://www.zokei.ac.jp/)
  • Musashino Art University Museum & Library (https://mauml.musabi.ac.jp/)

c) Information about collections at other museums (reference books)

You can view systematically classified lists of 60,000 catalogues by theme/field (paintings, sculptures, crafts, photographs, calligraphy, history, etc.) for major exhibitions held in Japan since the Meiji period to the present, collected by seven national public museums.
The exhibition periods, venues, sponsors, and collection location of the catalogues are listed in addition to basic bibliographic information about the catalogues. At the end of the volume, there is an “index of names of people/items” and an “index of organizer names” that can be browsed by artist name and theme. The latest information can be searched using the Art Library Cross Search.

This catalogue source contains bibliographic data of approximately 15,000 Japanese exhibition catalogs received by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo up to March 1999. Catalogues made before 1999 that could not be found on the MOMAT OPAC should be found in this source. The catalogue source is divided into two volumes—the main text and index. The index edition can be searched by catalog title, artist (kana), artist (alphabet), museum (kana), and museum (alphabet). All catalogs are assigned a 4-digit number, so if you refer to a main text volume based on that number, you can find information such as the title, publishing information, date/venue, and name of artist of exhibited work. Additionally, the main text volumes are arranged in order of classification number, enabling you to directly search for exhibitions related to a specific field.

You can view a list of “shisei exhibitions” held by department store art departments and Japanese art dealers (of new works) from before the war to after the war. In addition to exhibition names, periods/venues, sponsors, and exhibited works, this source introduces important reference literature about the sources and exhibitions of this information.

d) Overseas exhibition catalogues

The following is a reference tool for searching catalogues of exhibitions held overseas.

The Worldwide Bibliography of Art Exhibition Catalogs contains data for catalogues of exhibitions held around the world from 1963 to 1987. The volumes are arranged by geographic region and genre and can be searched from the comprehensive index.

You can search for recent catalogues on the website below. In order to access the actual catalogues, use the information acquired in this source to search the MOMAT OPAC, ALC, and databases of other organizations.

  • Worldwide Books Exhibition Catalogues and Other Books on Art (http://www.worldwide-artbooks.com/)

Arcade is a system that enables you to perform cross-searches of the OPACs of the three institutions that comprise the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC)—the Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives, the Frick Art Reference Library, and the Museum of Modern Art Library.

  • Arcade (NYARC) (http://arcade.nyarc.org/)

3.2.2 Finding information on past exhibitions

Information on past exhibitions refers to information about and records of the dates and locations of exhibitions that have already been held. To search for this information on exhibitions with accompanying catalogues, refer to the previous section and search for the catalogue to identify information such as the name of the museum and the period in which the exhibition was held. If no catalogue was issued, refer to “1. How to search for information about people” to find the artist biography, exhibition history, and other information and collect data on the exhibition. To obtain a variety of information about an exhibition, you can use the reference tools introduced below after collecting data as described above and identifying the museum and year of the exhibition.

a) Annual reports/newsletters

If you already know the exhibition period and venue information, you may be able to obtain details of the exhibition information by referring to an annual report or newsletter that was issued at the venue. You can check the OPAC to see if the issue you are looking for is available. The contents of annual reports and newsletters vary depending on the museum, but they often include exhibition notices, reports, and contributed writings. Furthermore, they may list records of related events and symposiums held during the exhibition period.

b) Yearbooks

Yearbooks are basic tools for learning about industry art movements from each year. It covers art movements and major news, and more in the art world for each year. Content may vary somewhat depending on the year, but the main topics covered are the annual history of the art world, major exhibitions, art bibliographies, and the deceased. For details, refer to “1.4.4 Yearbooks.”

c) Magazines

Art Exhibition Commentary is a quarterly magazine that mainly publishes exhibition reviews.

In many cases, exhibition reviews are also published in other magazines, and these articles can be used as records of exhibitions as well as for learning about how the exhibitions were regarded. For a guide to finding information about articles within magazines, refer to “4. How to find magazine information”.

d) Others

The following is a report summarizing the history of art exhibitions held at Japanese art museums since 1945. You can check the exhibition names, periods, sponsorship/cooperation, and exhibition catalog data for each museum from eight major art libraries in Tokyo and Yokohama.

The following is a collection of information about exhibitions of contemporary art held mainly in Japan from 1935 to the present. You can search using three items of information—venue, exhibition name, and the year the exhibition was held. Select “Art exhibitions” from the “Information search” tab.

  • Independent Administrative Institution National Institutes for Cultural Heritage Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties – Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems (http://archives.tobunken.go.jp/archives/)

You can search the periods, venues, sponsors, and collections of exhibition catalogues for special exhibitions, special displays, and extensively planned permanent exhibitions held by art museums nationwide between the years of 1945 and 2005.

You can use keyphrases to search for information on art exhibitions held around the country. Additionally, you can view exhibition information from various perspectives, including a list of exhibition titles and venues in kana syllabary order, a list sorted by year, and a list sorted by prefecture of venue in addition to a list of current and upcoming exhibitions.

3.2.3 Finding information on current (scheduled) exhibitions

This section covers a number of ways to find information about current and scheduled exhibitions. You can start looking for information about current and upcoming exhibitions by using tools like magazines and the Internet.

a) Japanese publications

Gallery is the monthly magazine that lists the largest number of exhibitions. In addition to upcoming exhibitions scheduled to be held in various parts of Japan, this magazine provides monthly schedules sorted by museum, department store, and gallery, as well as exhibition introductions.

Bijutsu techo covers the latest information on art and artists, exhibition information, and reviews from Japan and abroad. Although it has not been published since the April/May 2018 issue, the pamphlet “ART NAVI (Monthly Museum/Gallery Guide)” lists exhibitions that were held during the period of publication.

Furthermore, schedules for exhibitions held in Japan can be found in the sources below.

The shin bijutsu shinbun is issued early in the month, the middle of the month, and late in the month for a total of three times each month. The newspaper issued at the beginning of each month contains the exhibition schedule for the month. In March of every year, a complete schedule of exhibitions for the year is published.

b) Overseas publications

This section covers magazines that contain information about exhibitions in major cities around the world.

The Art Newspaper publishes a separate volume called “Review.” Its “Calendar” section contains schedules for exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world.

c) Online

In recent years, the official websites of many museums have been renewed, making it easier to access information about exhibitions online. The website below offers information about exhibitions with included links to the websites of each museum.

Clicking “Exhibition Schedule” on the homepage of Art Scape allows you to check information about exhibitions around the country sorted by region. (Information is updated on the 1st and 15th of each month.) Additionally, clicking “Museum Database” on the homepage will lead you to information about museums nationwide, which has been made into a database that can be searched using a map.

  • Artscape (Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.) (http://artscape.jp/)

Internet Museum allows you find information about exhibitions and facilities by searching for museums. You can check information for exhibitions and events by selecting a date in their museum calendar. For registered events and exhibitions, you can view images of flyers and other detailed information.

  • Internet Museum (TANSEISHA Co., Ltd.) (http://www.museum.or.jp/)

3.3 Finding information on exhibitions held by art associations

This section goes over how to find information on exhibition held by art associations. Art associations often use exhibitions as places of activity. Exhibition catalogs are an essential source of information that can be used to research art associations. This section will start with an explanation on how to search for catalogues, then introduce you to some recently reprinted catalogues of exhibitions and featured works.

3.3.1 Finding catalogues of exhibitions held by art associations

An exhibition catalogue created at the time of an opening of an exhibition by an art association will include images of featured works, lists of featured artists, and catalogues of featured works. Catalogues and works collections marked as “XXth anniversary” may contain information related to the association including writings and chronological records.

Searching the MOMAT OPAC using the names of associations or exhibitions as keyphrases will yield results from the exhibition catalogs. Even if you find results for catalogues made by an association you are researching, not all volumes/issues will necessarily be available, so be sure to check availability as well.

If you cannot find an exhibition catalogue from the MOMAT OPAC, you may be able to find some kind of information in art yearbooks. Year Book of Japanese Art, Bijutsu Techo, and other sources contain many entries about art associations. With regards to the items of exhibition information detailed above, Year Book of Japanese Art contains records of works featured in exhibitions held by major art associations in addition to exhibition dates and locations. Furthermore, brief entries may be found in the specialized dictionaries covered in “1. How to search for information about people”.

3.4 Finding reprinted catalog materials

The following source is a collection of materials obtained from valuable catalogues that cannot currently be viewed with ease.

It is a series of collections of reprinted material from art exhibitions, including that produced by art associations that were active from the Meiji to the early Showa eras. This series allows you to view valuable materials including images, catalogues, and related writings.

This is a compilation of materials including catalogues for auctions and collections of Western paintings owned by Tadamasa Hayashi, a Paris-based art dealer who introduced Japanese art to Europe and impressionism to Japan. There are 5 volumes in total.

The following is a list of works featured in the 1st (1877) to 5th (1903) national industrial exhibitions held during Meiji period. An index of full names and an index of issue names can be found at the end of the list.

The following is a list of works featured at nine major world expositions held abroad from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period. An index of full names and an index of issue names can be found at the end of the list.

The following is a list of works at exhibitions held by five major art associations during the Meiji period. Works are sorted by associations according to the order in which the exhibitions were held and the names of the artists.

The following is a list of works at 33 major exhibitions held in Japan, mainly in the Taisho era. A list of artists sorted in kana syllabary order can be found at the end of the list.

The following is a list of works at 32 major exhibitions held in Japan, mainly in the pre-war Showa period (1926–1945). A list of artists sorted in kana syllabary order can be found at the end of the list.

3.5 Finding museum data

This section introduces reference books that can be used to find data such as locations of museums, contact information, and opening hours.

a) Information about museums in Japan

On the Japanese Council of Art Museums website, there is a link to a page of associated museums called “Zenbi Museums.”

  • The Japanese Council of Art Museums (https://www.zenbi.jp/)

Museum in Japan collects information on 1,780 museums nationwide, including art museums and other museums. Museums are arranged by region, but you can also find them in kana order of museum name at the index at the end of the book.

Museums of private collections in Japan: A directory contains information on museums that were mainly founded for 185 individual collections nationwide. Many small museums are also featured in the directory, but some of the information overlaps with information found in the aforementioned guide Museum in Japan. The directory features a unique index at the end of the book that allows you to search by name of collector.

Memorial Museums of Famous People in Japan contains information on approximately 300 museums built in commemoration of individuals including artists. An index of museum names and an index of personal names can be found at the end of the book.

The following guides were also compiled with specific conditions in mind.

b) Information about museums abroad

You can use the following reference books to look for information on museums and galleries overseas.

International Directory of Arts consists of three volumes that contain contact information for museums, galleries and related institutions worldwide. You can use Volume 1 to search for art museums. You can search by country or region name.

Museums of the World contains contact information for museums, galleries, and other institutions from around the world compiled in two volumes. The index at the end of Volume 2 can be searched for distinguished persons, museum staff, and subject.

Furthermore, some magazines may contain information about museums and galleries. The following are two examples.

Each year’s August issue of Art in America contains contact information for museums and galleries in the United States. Data on exhibitions and featured artists may be included, and the magazine can be a source for detailed data on information related to art in the United States.

Art Diary is a directory that is published annually by Flash Art Books in Italy. It covers data on artists, museums, and galleries worldwide.

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