Log in

Automatically log me in on future visits Password not working as expected? Reset your password.

Writing and Translating for Museums and Artists


There are over 600 art museums in Japan, and countless galleries, but only a fraction provide English-language materials about their collections or exhibitions. Of those that do, it’s usually only part of the material that gets translated, and the quality of the English can be so poor that little information is actually conveyed.


This lack of English in Japanese museums is frustrating for visitors who pay full admission yet don’t have the language skills to enjoy what’s on offer, and hampers museums’ ability to share their collections and communicate with the rest of the world. Many Japanese museums would like to have a higher international profile, and interact more with their colleagues in other countries, but they soon bump up against the language barrier.


Alice will look at what museums are doing now as well as what they could do better. She’ll outline the wide range of translation services that museums need, while drawing from her own experience for hints on how to get these jobs. She’ll talk about the challenges of working with curators and within museum budgets, and suggest some creative options for getting into the field and making your own niche.



Speaker profile


Alice Gordenker


Alice Gordenker is a Tokyo-based writer who translates regularly for museums, artists and NHK’s international programming. She has translated about all sorts of arts and traditional crafts, from pottery to painting, and has developed a special focus on photography. She has handled all aspects of translation for museum exhibitions, from catalogs and captions to the invitations for openings, and has written press releases and web pages as well as artist statements and profiles.


In addition, she has written English narration and subtitles for videos and television programs about Japanese art for NHK and other clients. After the 2011 earthquake in Tohoku, she started doing volunteer translation for museums destroyed by the tsunami and helped arrange an exhibit in Oxford, England about efforts to rescue damaged collections. Her latest major translation is the catalog for the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography’s 2014 retrospective on early photographer Shimooka Renjo, which was published as a bilingual book by Kokusho Kankokai. She studied Japanese and Japanese art at Princeton University, and has lived in Tokyo for over 15 years.


Date and Time: Sun 22, 13:00


Room: 604


Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter