Where art thou now?

Tuesday 06 Feb 2007

Japan's largest museum opens its doors

It’s been three decades since architect Kisho Kurokawa began designing what is now Japan’s largest museum. With its striking facade of waves of glass, it encompasses an astounding 48,000m², making it the largest in Japan. With no collection of its own, the National Art Center, Tokyo’s 12 exhibition rooms will be divided between shows organized by nationally recognized art associations (ten rooms) and those used for curated exhibitions (two rooms). Alongside the state-of-the-art exhibition spaces are a restaurant and three cafés, a shop, an auditorium, three lecture rooms and a public art library containing 50,000 publications, largely art exhibition catalogues. Also, as part of their “outreach to the public,” the museum will offer educational programs, lectures, gallery talks, internships and volunteer programs. For 2007, the 43 volunteers and ten graduate-students and museum-professional interns have already been selected. The building is a work of art in itself. The eye-catching design by Kisho Kurokawa is best appreciated from the Roppongi Hills observatory. With a “mori no naka” (in the middle of the woods) theme, the architect based the curved frontage on computer-rendered rhythmic images formed by mountains and the seashore. Inside, the atrium blends two huge conical pods with natural wood flooring, andon-style lights that illuminate a bank of slatted walls, and leafy views of Aoyama Cemetery. It’s a breathtaking welcome that befits the museum’s original concept as a hirakareta bijutsukan—a museum opened to all.

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