If you go down to the Mori Art Museum today…

… you’re sure of a big surprise!

There is a plethora of amazing art spaces in Tokyo from the major museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo to the small-scale galleries established in old wooden houses. I’m not familiar with many of them; in fact, if I’m being completely honest, the only art space I’ve visited since becoming a Tokyo resident is the Mori Art Museum.

My first visit to the Museum was late last year: a friend had free tickets to an exhibition on Metabolism, the Japanese architectural movement that originated in the 1950s, and invited me along. At the time, Metabolism was completely new to me as was the genius of Kenzo Tange, who I’m now mildly obsessed with. (See H&L references to his Yoyogi National Gymnasium here and here)

Designs by Kiyonori Kikutake, one of the founders of the Metabolism movement.

But, discovering Metabolism wasn’t the only experience on offer; our tickets also included entry to the Sky Aquarium and the Tokyo City View observation deck. Bizarrely, the Mori Art Museum is located on the 53rd floor of Mori Tower, a 54-story skyscraper in Roppongi. Stranger still, someone had the crazy idea to take the sea to the sky! So, at 200 meters above ground level, we were able to enjoy an art installation of tropical fish with color-coordinated coral and lighting. This, my friends, is the future.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Princess Takiyasha summons a skeleton spectre to frighten Mitsukuni

I’ve since returned to the Mori Art Museum on 2 separate occasions, and I’m consistently impressed by the originality and diversity of the exhibits. Trip Two was to see an outstanding show chronicling the works of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, one of the great masters of the ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and painting. Most recently, I went to check out an exhibition profiling contemporary artists from the “Arab World”.

Zena el Khalil, Marya, Men-Men-Men

This last one, titled Arab Express: The Latest Art from the Arab World, offered a fascinating insight into the culture, religion, politics and art of the region. While researching for this post, I learnt that this exhibit is part of the Museum’s Public Program, which aims to “present a dynamic and unique range of educational activities designed to give children, students, local residents and the broader community the chance to discover, enjoy, and discuss art. In this way it plays a key role in realizing the Museum’s mission of bringing together art and life.” This is an awesome initiative and yet another solid selling point.

So, what do you think? Have I won you over? Did I mention that there’s a view out to the ocean? And a gift-shop selling Yayoi Kusama-designed goods? :)

Seriously, though, this is an unusual and interesting place to spend an afternoon. It’s also quintessentially Tokyo. The Mori Art Museum gets two big thumbs up from me; highly recommended for Tokyo travellers and residents alike.

This entry was posted in Do, Tokyo.

One comment

  1. Caroline says:

    My most vivid memory of visiting the Mori Art Museum is from Christmas Day, 2009, when we saw an exhibition on death. Followed by ‘hot wine’ and a hotdog at the German Christmas Fair downstairs at Roppongi Hills, it was a Christmas Day I’ll never forget!

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