Preserving Fujimoto’s Origami Models

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Related people: Shuzo Fujimoto

Origami models folded by Shuzo Fujimoto being moved from old to new, acid-free packaging in an effort to preserve them in good condition for many years

Recently, I was contacted by Fuhyi Kuo, a conservator also interested in origami. She had learned from someone who attended the 2023 German Convention about the models folded by Shuzo Fujimoto that were in my custody, and wanted to help with their preservation. I was very happy to accept her tips since preserving various artifacts for long periods of time is much more tricky than you might think. Paper, in particular, is susceptible to aging and degradation from many factors, including chemicals that come from the paper itself. These models, folded by Shuzo Fujimoto in the early 1980’s, have already survived around 40 years in good condition, and I want to ensure they can be preserved for the years to come.

Based on Fuhyi’s hints, I bought museum-grade packaging at a specialist online store. The new storage consists of envelopes made from acid-free paper and acid-free cardboard boxes. Envelopes come in different sizes to match the models. I also got an acid-free folder, in which I placed Fujimoto’s letters, each separated from the next one by a sheet of acid-free paper. Needless to say, just as previous packaging, the new set also protects all models and letters from sunlight. The envelopes, boxes, folders, and dividers being acid-free means that contact with the packaging should have as little negative effect on the stored items as possible. In the image, you can see the process of moving individual models from their original storage in a plastic stock book into individual envelopes stored in boxes.

I think this is an interesting case of origami preservation, and it shows how origami can lead to very interesting cross-disciplinary cooperation. I am very grateful to Fuhyi Kuo for her getting in touch with me, explaining the factors that affect paper’s longevity, and providing specific hints on how to store it. If you are in possession of old origami models or other similar items, I hope this post can help you preserve them in good condition. Some papers will degrade quickly to start with, but even with high quality papers, preserving them over the span of decades or more requires conscious effort.