At the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, the bonsai on display in the collection gallery are changed every week.
Most museums which mostly handle items like folk art, paper and documents will change their exhibitions once every few weeks or monthly. Unlike those other museums, we display bonsai, which are living. As such, bonsai require natural light and air, meaning that the displays must be changed every week in order to protect and preserve them. As you may have realized, the reason that the air conditioning is not used much in the collection gallery is for this very reason. When you visit the museum, you may feel too hot or too cold within the gallery. We apologise for this, but please do understand. We do this because the bonsai are our top priority. We also keep the air conditioning turned off when our curators are changing the displays, so they too feel both extremes of temperature.
Every Sunday, after the museum is closed, the curators take the bonsai currently on display and leave them in the garden all night to let them breathe the open air so that they may stay in good condition.
The pieces on display are changed every Thursday, the day the museum is closed (if a national holiday happens to fall on a Thursday, it is instead done after the museum has closed on that day as the museum is open on national holidays). After the bonsai technicians have brought the bonsai that will be put on display, the curators will place the shoku (the stands which bonsai are placed on) down. As shoku have the role of highlighting the bonsai, they cannot stand out too much or be too plain. Before beginning the job of changing a display, the bonsai technicians first choose a suitable bonsai, then the curators will choose a shoku which goes well with the bonsai.
Finally, for the zashiki-kazari room displays, scrolls and companion pieces which fit the bonsai or the season must also be chosen. The display is then finalised when the bonsai technicians place the bonsai into the room.
Our museum has a large number of masterpiece bonsai in our collection. As such we have several large bonsai which require two fully grown people to carry. Of course, these large bonsai require large shoku too. These shoku will also be very heavy by themselves as they need to be strong enough to handle the weight of the bonsai.
In order to properly display the living art of bonsai, we have to work to preserve them and come up with ways to properly bring out their qualities. What you see when you visit is a complete display, but as we hope you can see, we do a lot behind the scenes to prioritize the bonsai. We hope that with this knowledge, you can enjoy our exhibitions in a new light.