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Santa Maria Public Library to Display Rare Japanese Magazine Collection

Beginning Dec. 1, 2015, and running through Jan. 27, 2016, patrons of the Santa Maria Public Library can view one of the most rare, unique collections of magazine prints in the world. 

From the 1920s tthrough the '40s, there arose a Japanese magazine dedicated to current affairs, the arts and photography (Shashin).

These hand-assembled publications were produced in very small quantities and they became the first and foremost venue for artistic expression. Each issue includes stunning, hand-tinted color photographs and lithograph reproductions of classical and contemporary art.

Over a period of eight years, Michael Oren, a military historian who lived and worked in Japan, accumulated the majority of these magazines from the '20s - '40s.

An expert assessment, done by Stanford University was able to verify the collection's rarity and completeness.

As homage to the Japanese staff that dedicated themselves to the creation of this unique magazine, Oren has endeavored to make these publications available to the larger public.

It has taken several years of methodical dissecting and digitally scanning every piece in his collection but this artistic and historical resource will soon be accessible online.

It is the largest collection of shashin in the world and comprises over 7,000 pages and an estimated 28,000 individual images. 

Oren selected several images to present for exhibition in the Shepard Hall gallery. Please note that due to the fragility and rarity of the original publications, all images for this exhibition are high-quality print reproductions. 

The Shepard Hall gallery is only open during the library’s normal business hours. Due to private events or community meetings in Shepard Hall, viewing times for the exhibit may vary from week to week. 

Questions may be directed to the Library’s Graphics Technician, Sara Voss, at 805.925.0994 x832 or [email protected].

Mark van de Kamp is the public information officer for the City of Santa Maria.


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