Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art: Encounter The World Of Tadao Ando
Written by Osawa Kumi
The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, designed by Tadao Ando, is a museum in Kobe where all can appreciate the works of the world-renowned architect. Ando Gallery opened in 2019 and provides visitors an up-close look at this artists' one-of-a-kind pieces.
The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
The south facade of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
In 1995, Kobe was devastated by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Following the disaster, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art opened in 2002, as a start to cultural reconstruction of the area.
The museum, surrounded by water and greenery, was designed by the world-renowned architect, Tadao Ando. It has grown into a facility that welcomes 900,000 visitors annually. While the museum hosts various exhibitions, some people also visit to appreciate the architecture.
This article is about the Ando-designed architecture, along with what you can see at the Exhibition Block No. 2 (Ando Gallery), which opened in 2019.
A Photogenic Work of Architecture
1. The Stairways
The museum can be appreciated in many ways. For instance, take a look at the stairs, which connect the rooms in the maze-like interior. The spiral steps in the photograph above is called the Circular Terrace.
The Circular Terrace connects the basement floor to the outdoor space on the second floor. It the museum's center, also connecting the exhibition wing and the gallery wing.
The contrast of the artificial concrete and the sky above makes the terrace a perfect spot to take photographs.
The complex stairs linking the elevator hall to the temporary exhibition gallery on the third floor resembles the inside of a pyramid.
The Large Staircase connects the outdoor spaces on the sea side of the museum. On a clear day, visitors sitting on the steps can enjoy the view of the port or the sunset. Along with the promenade, the stairs can also turn a daily act of taking a stroll at the museum into an escape from everyday life.
2. Enjoying the Light, Shadow and Breeze
The Wind Deck is located on the fourth floor. Both Mt. Rokko (mountain side) and the warehouse district (sea side) can be seen from this spot, where a pleasant breeze blows between the buildings. This is another popular spot to take photographs; even fashion magazines sometimes have photo sessions here.
The contrast between light and shadow stands out in this museum. Go find a spot you like and have fun.
3. Green Apple
On December, 2018, an art installation was placed on the Seaside Deck. The Ando-designed Green Apple was inspired by “Youth,” a verse by the American poet Samuel Ullman.
The work represents the architect's will to challenge themselves and grow, while keeping a youthful state of mind.
The installation, made from FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic), is 2.5 meters in width, depth, and height. Unlike other works of art in museums, visitors can actually touch this artwork, and a large number of people have taken photographs alongside the Green Apple.
Visitors are invited to post pictures on their social media accounts with hashtags such as "Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art," "Ando Gallery," or "Green Apple." Please be courteous to other visitors while taking photographs.
Exhibition Block No. 2 (Ando Gallery)
Exhibition Block No. 2 (Ando Gallery) opened on May, 2019, to further energize the museum. There is no admission fee for this facility. Within three months after its opening, more than 20,000 people visited this popular gallery, which displays models and drawings of Ando's works.
Second Floor: Permanent Exhibition
The first exhibit is titled Hyogo/Reconstruction. Ando's works in Hyogo Prefecture, and various reconstruction projects (including this museum) after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, are displayed in this zone.
The Origin/Works zone is located on the east side. One of Ando's early works, Sumiyoshi no Nagaya (Row House in Sumiyoshi), which was built in 1976, is displayed using photograph panels and a 1/10 scale concrete model. Nagaya is a Japanese-style collective housing, with semi-detached units lined up side by side.
Photograph panels and a 1/10 scale concrete model of Church of the Light, another internationally-work, is also on display. The church is filled with spirituality, as a narrow, cross-shaped opening on the wall greets the visitors.
Third Floor: New Projects
On the third floor, a large bookshelf can be seen along with the models. Visitors can browse the architecture books on the shelves.
At the time of our visit, the Naoshima Project was on display. There are seven buildings designed by Ando on the island of Naoshima, including the renowned Chichu Art Museum.
There is another corner displaying various projects which has been completed or are under construction all over the globe.
A 1/30 scale wooden model of Punta della Dogana (an contemporary art museum in Venice, Italy) and a 1/100 scale wooden model of Bourse de Commerce (an art museum in Paris, France) was also on display. Please note that these exhibits will be changed regularly.
The photograph above is a model of the Osaka Nakanoshima Children’s Library, scheduled to open in 2020. This project is filled with Ando's philosophy and thoughts on education for future generations.
The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00. On Fridays and Saturdays during special exhibitions, the gallery closes at 20:00. Last admission is thirty minutes before closing. It will be closed on Mondays, same as the museum. If Monday happens to be a national holiday, the gallery will be closed on Tuesday. For details, please check the official museum site.
For Visitors from Abroad
The information counter and the ticket booth are located in the center of the entrance hall. Besides Japanese, pamphlets are provided in English, Chinese, and Korean. There is no admission fee for the Ando Gallery, and visitors can view the building for free, but tickets must be purchased to enter the exhibition gallery. Please keep in mind that as of September, 2019, only cash is accepted.
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, designed by Tadao Ando, came into fruition as a symbol of reconstruction after the earthquake, with the support of many people bound by their love of art. Be sure to visit this unique museum in Kobe.
In cooperation with Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art and Tadao Ando Architects & Associates.