A Message from the Director

Oct. 29, 2018

"Astronomy and Printing" exhibition has started.

The cultural movement known as the Renaissance saw its heyday in 15th and 16th century Europe. This was an era that saw the creation of great masterpieces, and saw academics and intellectuals liberated from ancient ways of thinking; it was a time for the glorification of the freedom of human understanding.

Two great pursuits arose during the intellectual liberation of the Renaissance. One was the study of celestial bodies ? astronomy ? in which researchers accurately observed and predicted the orbits of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets. Some astronomers even aimed their powerful aspirations at discovering an overall theory that explained the orbital movements of those celestial bodies. This was in no way a simple task.

Another pursuit that arose during that era was that of printing, which was undertaken by those individuals utilizing the moveable-type printing techniques developed by German printer Johannes Gutenberg. With the Gutenberg press, books no longer had to be copied by hand, one-by-one; multiple pages could be reproduced in a minimal amount of time using moveable type characters and printing plates. It seemed almost like magic. Once people understood how the technology could be applied, it immediately spread throughout Europe.

Something surprising happened when astronomers discovered just how useful printing could be. Namely, the data that described the motion of celestial bodies through the sky could be presented alongside illustrative plates laying out that motion in visual form. Abstract orbital diagrams were able to be presented clearly on the page and read by people far and wide.

For this exhibition, we have attempted to reproduce that coming together of the two pursuits. Accordingly, we thought it appropriate to present visitors with as many real historical materials as possible, and thereby provide them with an understanding of the various activities undertaken and the diverse array of knowledge that was uncovered. We invite you to visit and thoroughly enjoy our newest exhibition.

Koichi Kabayama

Director
Printing Museum, Tokyo

Koichi Kabayama

Director
Printing Museum, Tokyo

Born in Tokyo in 1945. Graduated from the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo in 1965, and after completing the masters degree course at the university became a research assistant at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University in 1969. Became an assistant professor at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo in 1976, and later became a professor. Served as the Director-General of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo from 2001, becoming Director of the Printing Museum, Tokyo in 2005, a position he still holds. His fields of specialization are Western history and Western cultural history.