About the MOMAT
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT) consists of the main building and the Crafts Gallery in Kitanomaru Park near the Imperial Palace. It strives to heighten public interest in modern art.
It opened as the first national art museum in Kyobashi, Chuo Ward on December 1, 1952. As a long-awaited national permanent exhibition facility for contemporary art, the museum started its activities in the former headquarters of Nikkatsu Corporation refurbished by architect MAEKAWA Kunio.
Since the space of the collection gallery gradually became restricted due to the growth of the museum collection and the need for holding larger-scale exhibitions, the relocation of the museum was being considered. The advisor ISHIBASHI Shojiro subscribed for the museum building, and due to his kindness, in 1969 MOMAT moved to the new building designed by architect TANIGUCHI Yoshiro in Kitanomaru Koen in Chiyoda Ward, the present address. 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.
The Art Museum (The main building)
photo: Norihiro Ueno
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 in 2012.
Boasting a total of 4,500 square meters (48,438 square feet) of exhibition space, the main building is one of Japan’s 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 13,000 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 three to four 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
The Crafts Gallery opened in 1977 as an annex to the museum showing modern crafts and design including ceramics, glasswork, lacquerware, woodwork, bamboowork, textiles, dolls, metalwork, industrial design and graphic design. Initially designed by military engineer TAMURA Yasushi and built in March 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 MOMAT. 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 on November 15, 1977 as the Crafts Gallery of the MOMAT. 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.
On April 1, 2001 MOMAT 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 on January 21, 2007 and National Film Archive of Japan (NFAJ) that was spun off from MOMAT on April 1, 2018, the Institution has served as the national hub for art promotion.
The film division of MOMAT was known as National Film Center until March 2018. On April 1, 2018, National Film Center was made an independent organization named National Film Archive of Japan, becoming the sixth member of the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art.
The film division was first opened as the film library of the National Museum of Modern Art (now the MOMAT) established in 1952. In 1969 when the art museum moved to the present address in Kitanomaru Koen, the film library was expanded into National Film Center in the former building of the museum in Kyobashi (The center was remodeled and reopened in 1995). In 1986, the Sagamihara Annex was newly built in Kanagawa that was designed to permanently preserve films under climate control. Its preservation facilities were enlarged twice in 2011 and 2014.
It joined the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1989. As the only national institution for preservation and research of films in Japan, NFAJ is dedicated to the collection, preservation and restoration of films and related materials as cultural heritage and historical materials. NFAJ also organizes screenings and exhibitions on various themes.