The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo consists of the main building and the Crafts Gallery in Kitanomaru Park near the Imperial Palace, and the National Film Center in Kyobashi near Ginza. It strives to heighten public interest in modern art.
It opened in 1952 as the first national art museum in Kyobashi, Chuo Ward. As a long-awaited permanent exhibition facility for contemporary art, the museum started its activities in the former headquarters of Nikkatsu Corporation refurbished by architect MAEKAWA Kunio.
Due to the growth of the museum collection and the need for holding larger-scale exhibitions, the museum moved in 1969 to Kitanomaru Koen in Chiyoda Ward, the present address. In 1970 the National Film Center opened in the building in Kyobashi, which was entirely rebuilt in 1995. In 1977 the Crafts Gallery opened in the former headquarters of the Imperial Guards, an Important Cultural Property, in Kitanomaru Koen, leading to the present-day organization of the museum.
photo: Norihiro Ueno
On April 1, 2001 the museum became a member of the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art with the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, and the National Museum of Art, Osaka. Together with the National Art Center, Tokyo that opened later in Roppongi, the Institution has served as the national hub for art promotion.
Designed by architect TANIGUCHI Yoshiro, the main building of our museum has been familiar to many people for a long time. From 1999, thirty years after construction, it underwent large-scale extension and renovation designed by Sakakura Associates.
The exhibition galleries were enlarged, a library allowing access to the public, a restaurant and museum shop were newly established, and the lounge space was increased. In addition to improving the environment for viewing works of art, construction work to make the building more earthquake-proof was carried out. The renovation work was completed in September 2001 and, in January 2002, an exhibition entitled The Unfinished Century: Legacies of 20th-Century Art was held to commemorate the renewal and restart of activities anew.
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary, the museum made a major renovation of its collection galleries.
Boasting a total of 4,500 square meters (48,438 square feet) of exhibition space, the main building is one of the largest art museums. In the collection galleries on the fourth to second floors, MOMAT Collection presents 200 important works selected from our rich collection of more than 12,000 items. The exhibits date from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, ranging from Japanese- and Western-style paintings, prints, watercolors, drawings and sculptures to photographs and videos. Special thematic exhibitions featuring art at home and abroad are given four to five times a year in the special exhibition galleries on the first floor with an area of 1,300 square meters (13,993 square feet).
The Crafts Gallery opened in 1977 as an annex to the museum showing modern crafts and design including ceramics, glasswork, lacquerware, woodwork, bamboowork, textiles, doll, metalwork, industrial design and graphic design. Initially designed by military engineer TAMURA Yasushi and built in 1910 as the headquarters of the Imperial Guards, its building was modified for use as an art gallery.
Left to dilapidate after World War II, the former headquarters was once planned to be demolished. However, the authorities received opinions that the building was of great architectural value because it was an excellent example of the Western-style brick buildings built in the Meiji period (1868–1912), and also an important legacy of governmental architecture. In September 1972 the Cabinet decided that the building should be designated as important cultural property and used as an annex to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. In October 1972, it was designated as important cultural property under the name of “the former Headquarters of the Imperial Guards.”
Its exterior, entrance and hall were restored and repaired, and the exhibition rooms on the second floor were renovated after the design by TANIGUCHI Yoshiro. Restored as an exhibition facility for crafts, the building opened in November 1977 as the Crafts Gallery of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The roof was restored to the original condition using slate. The handrails of the stairs from the front hall to the second floor illustrate the substantial look of the original building. Harmonizing with surrounding trees of each season, its simple, Gothic-style red-brick exterior creates unique atmosphere.
The only national institution for the preservation and research of films, the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo was first opened as the film library of the National Museum of Modern Art (now the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) established in 1952. In 1969 when the art museum moved to the present site in Kitanomaru Koen, the film library was expanded into the National Film Center in the former building of the museum. The center was remodeled and reopened in 1995. In 1986, the Sagamihara Branch was newly built in Kanagawa that was designed to permanently preserve the films in a controlled climate. Its preservation facilities were enlarged twice in 2011 and 2014.
The National Film Center is dedicated to the collection, preservation and restoration of films and related materials as the cultural heritage and historical materials. It joined the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1989. The center organizes screenings and exhibitions on various themes, and has a library specializing in cinema.