Island of modern art 現代美術の島

Naoshima is an island of modern art. It’s not a big island, but has 4 museums as well as other artworks here and there.

I’d like to start with the museums today. The museum area of the island hosts 3 museums: the Chichu Art museum, the Lee Ufan Museum and the Benesse House Museum. Tadao Ando, the acclaimed architect, designed all of them.

The Chichu Art Museum is designed so that you can appreciate nature. It’s in the basement as the name suggests (chichu means underground/in the ground in Japanese), but natural light comes in and as the weather changes, what you see and feel change too. The whole museum was like a site-specific work. Each room is well designed to present artwork in the best way.

Several works are displayed just with natural light such as Walter de Maria’s installation and James Turrell’s Open Sky. This  means every time you see the works, they would look different. In the room of Open Sky, I loved not only watching how the clouds move, but also listening to the birds and winds. The experience was meditative and cathartic.

The museum mainly hosts modern art works, but there’s somehow Claude Monet’s famous Water Lily paintings. Impressionist paintings are not really my cup of tea, but I was impressed how the works are displayed. In the white space with natural light only, you can experience the paintings in the way you’ve never have done in other places. It was as if the paintings came to life.

When you visit there, make sure to drop by the café. You can have a cuppa while looking out to the sea. If the weather is good, it’s nice to sit outside or the garden area and chill out.

This museum is very popular and gets very crowded although the museum controls the number of people who enter inside. I strongly recommend booking online in advance, or go there first thing in the morning and get the waiting numbers that specifies when you can go and purchase the ticket and get inside.




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