Chichester’s Novium Museum welcomes 200-year-old Japanese exhibit

The Japanese Shogi set at the Novum Museum
The Japanese Shogi set at the Novum Museum

CHICHESTER museum-goers have been offered the chance to see a rare Japanase board game – on loan from a London Museum.

The Novium Museum is hosting an exhibition entitled A Curious Case of Collecting: World Objects in Chichester, inspired after the loan of an ancient Japanese shogi set from the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

The Japanese Shogi set at the Novum Museum

The Japanese Shogi set at the Novum Museum

“The new World Objects exhibition showcases some hidden treasures which, as far as we know, have never been displayed together before now,” said Chichester District Council cabinet member for commercial services Gillian Keegan.

“There are some fascinating stories behind each object and how they came to be a part of the museum’s collection in Chichester.”

A museum spokeswoman said the ‘stunning 200-year-old Japanese board game’ would take centre stage in the exhibition.

The loan is part of Object in Focus, a project funded by Arts Council England.

The scheme widens access to the Horniman Museum’s collections by offering objects on short-term loan to different museums across England, said the spokeswoman.

“The shogi set was purchased by the Horniman Museum and Gardens in 1951,” she said. “It was believed at the time to have been made by the Japanese porcelain factory Kutani, the pieces dating from 1720, and the board from 1780.

“If so, it would be extremely rare. It is more likely that it was made in the early 1800s. Most shogi sets were made of wood, with luxury sets being made of lacquered wood decorated with gold, making this particular set a very unusual piece.”

The game of shogi developed in Japan around 900-1000AD and is similar to chess.

It is played on a board by two players with pieces representing kings, generals and foot soldiers.

Inspired by this loan, staff at The Novium Museum researched the museum’s own little-known collection of world objects.

Also known as ethnographic collections, these objects represent other cultures across the world.

“Many museums contain collections of curiosities which often now fall under the theme of world culture,” said the spokeswoman. “Although these objects do not fit with The Novium Museum’s current policy of collecting material of local significance, they are an important representation of the museum’s history.”

The exhibition features 18 world objects from the museum’s collection, including a Samurai sword, a South American Chimu pot and an African beaded necklace.

The shogi set will be on loan to The Novium Museum until November 24, with the World Objects exhibition remaining open until July, 2016.

Admission to the museum is free.

In addition, a series of family activities, inspired by the new exhibition, will be taking place every Friday throughout the summer holidays, 10am – 2pm.

Workshops include beaded jewellery; clay sculpture; and paper making. Places can be booked by calling The Novium on 01243 775888.

A free talk entitled Ceramics and Chess in Asia by Rose Kerr, former keeper of the far eastern department at the V&A Museum, will take place on October 14 from 6.30pm-7.30pm at the museum.

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