Hermitage cuts short Japan exhibition tour: official

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Russia's most famous museum, the Hermitage, plans to cut short an exhibition tour of Japan on fears of radiation from the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, a museum spokeswoman said on Friday.

The Saint Petersburg-based museum's exhibition of Russian and European glass had been scheduled to run for three months from December in Takasaki, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Tokyo.

"The Hermitage has cancelled its exhibition 'European and Russian glass from the Hermitage collection' which was to come to Tagasaki in December so as not to put employees and items in danger," spokeswoman Yekaterina Sharova told AFP.

"This is because of the danger of radiation exposure."

The confirmation comes after Katsutoshi Taniuchi, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Takasaki told AFP the exhibition had been cancelled due to "harmful rumours," insisting there was no "safety problem" in the city.

The museum is located some 210 kilometres from the Fukushima plant where nuclear reactors suffered meltdowns after cooling systems were crippled by a massive earthquake and tsunami which ravaged Japan's northeast on March 11.

The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg started the tour in June in Sapporo, northern Japan.

The exhibition, featuring 327 items of art glass from the 18th to early 20th centuries, was then held in Tokyo for more than two months.

It is set to go on to Okayama, western Japan, for a one-month display from Saturday.

Taniuchi said the Hermitage had asked the Japanese museum last month to call off the exhibition "because they did not want to keep the collection too long in Japan for fear of radiation."

Founded in 1764 by Empress Catherine the Great, the Hermitage has more than three million works or art and artifacts, one of the largest collection of classical art in the world.

© 2011 AFP

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