As a result, the screens have been the focus of a major two-year conservation project undertaken for Yale by the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo, where the screens were first assembled in the 1930s. The project involved removing each fragile document for cleaning, repair of insect damage and other wear, and re-backing with hand-made papers, which were specially chosen or custom-made and sized for each document. The documents – including decrees issued by the shogunate, letters and petitions related to the business of the great temples of Nara, and other records from Japan’s medieval and early modern periods – were returned to Yale in August and will now be housed separately to protect them from the abrasion they experienced while in screen format.
The screens were first displayed in December 1934 in a public exhibition in Sterling Memorial Library soon after the collection was donated. The display of the documents on October 5th (at both talk and reception) will be the first time any have been exhibited in 78 years.