Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art reopens with a new look

Just last Friday, following a three-year hiatus, MOT reopened, sporting a minimalist update by Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

With its triangular walkways of metal and glass, vast geometric motifs and airy double-height galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) has long been famed as one of Japan’s largest and most important museums devoted to contemporary art.

Now, the museum is back, having reopened its doors to the public last week following a three-year closure for renovations. The museum, which first opened in 1995 on the fringes of Kiba Park in the eastern Kiyosumi-Shirakawa neighbourhood, is housed in one of Tokyo’s most distinct spaces.

The original light-filled structure of glass, steel and concrete was designed by Takahiko Yanagisawa + TAK Architects Inc. and today houses about 7,000 square meters of exhibition space and a collection of approximately 5,400 mainly post-war contemporary artworks.

The recent renovation focused on upgrading air conditioning and equipment, as well as interior floors, walls and ceilings; a new energy efficient lighting system was also installed.

Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects – also behind HAY Japan’s flagship store and a string of Blue Bottle cafes – designed new interior furniture for the museum. Perhaps the most eye-catching are the dozens of large, round minimalist seats made from cork – a ‘warm and soft’ material that balances the strong architectural structure – scattered in the bright lobby and on terraces. New signage – light, modern and monochrome – was also created by Yoshiaki Irobe of the Irobe Design Institute.

Nagasaka also designed the furniture for a new cafe and lounge called Sandwich Upstairs – managed by Smiles – a serene white and light wood-filled circular space, serving up green tea lattes, coffees and, of course, sandwiches (NADiff contemporary, a museum shop packed with art books and design accessories, is just underneath). A second family-friendly restaurant called 100 Spoons has also opened in the basement.

Meanwhile, the Art Library, home to around 270,000 books and reference materials, was refurbished with a sleek expanse of dark wood tables, a Multi-media Booth for viewing videos, and a new Art Library for Children.

The reopening kicked off with a dizzying plundering of the museum’s permanent collection, in the form of a special exhibition titled Weavers of Worlds: A Century of Flux in Japanese Modern / Contemporary Art, a tour de force of Japan’s art scene over the past century. Elsewhere in the gallery, new additions to the collection were showcased in a separate show called MOT Collection: Pleased to meet you. New Acquisitions in recent years.

Other upcoming event highlights on its newly announced exhibition schedule include shows devoted to artist Olafur Eliasson and minä perhonen, Akira Minagawa’s fashion and textile brand.

Text / Danielle Demetriou
Images / Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo & Sandwich Upstairs

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Richard Deacon, Like A Snail B, 1987-96. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Richard Deacon, Like A Snail B, 1987-96. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Art Library for Children. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Art Library for Children. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Akio Suzuki, An Encouragement of Dawdling; “Otodate and “no zo mi”, 2018-2019. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

Akio Suzuki, An Encouragement of Dawdling; “Otodate and “no zo mi”, 2018-2019. Image by Kenta Hasegawa

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