Treatment of Hanabusa Itchō’s iconic masterpiece, The Death of the Historical Buddha (Nehan zu) began in the spring of 2016 behind closed doors. In August 2016, the Japanese hanging scroll, last treated and remounted in the 1850s, moved into gallery 178, allowing the public to observe and interact with conservators as treatment continued. This rare 16-foot-tall masterpiece of the Edo period, which has not been on view in more than 25 years, is one of the most important Buddhist paintings of its time. In partnership with colleagues from the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, this project gives the conservation team an opportunity to engage with visitors in the gallery and field questions as they work on the painting.
“Conservation in Action: Preserving Nirvana” is generously supported by The Sumitomo Foundation.