Kyoto City Kyocera Museum has reopened after a three-year renovation and it’s a beauty

Here are five things you should not miss at this Kyoto art attraction

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art, formerly known as the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, reopened in spring this year after undergoing three years of renovation. Along with a robust schedule of exhibitions, the museum’s renewal brings a number of new gallery spaces designed by some of Japan’s top architects. There are lots to do at the museum besides looking at art and here are our recommendations.

Kyocera Museum
Photo: Takeshi Kurita

Check out the work by Japan's top architects 

When the museum was due for a makeover, Japanese architect and museum director Jun Aoki knew he wanted to transform the venue through a modern perspective while still honouring the building’s history. Kyoto City Kyocera Museum’s main building is one of the oldest of its kind in Japan, revered for its Crown Imperial Style architecture from when it was built over 80 years ago. Aoki decided to keep the museum’s best features and add to them elements such as a spiral wooden staircase in its central hall for better spatial continuity. 

Rather than demolishing old structures to make way for new ones, new buildings like the triangular gallery, known as the Higashiyama Cube, was designed within the limits of the compound’s available space.

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Photo: Yuji Ono © Hiroshi Sugimoto Architects: New Material Research Laboratory / Hiroshi Sugimoto + Tomoyuki Sakakida. Originally commissioned for LE STANZE DEL VETRO, Venice / Courtesy of Pentagram Stiftung & LE STANZE DEL VETRO.

Visit Hiroshi Sugimoto's glass tearoom 

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s glass tearoom is a sight to behold. The ‘Mondrian’ was first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2014, where it captivated crowds with its stunning simplicity and immaculate details. The installation comes in two parts: the tearoom itself and the water landscape it is suspended over. The installation is site specific; as such, it will only be on display at the museum until January 31 next year.

Takeuchi Seiho
Photo: Tekeuchi Seiho, ‘Posing for the First Time’ 1913

Read up on the museum's permanent collection online 

The museum boasts a collection of roughly 3,600 pieces by Kyoto artists, ranging from western-style paintings and sculptures to calligraphy and ukiyo-e block prints. A number of works have also been donated to the museum by artists and collectors leading up to its reopening, some of which will be on display permanently.

You can view the pieces from the collection, which rotate seasonally, but the museum’s website also has a dedicated page for you to browse the collection and read up about individual pieces.

Kyoto City Kyocera Museum

Admire the museum's after-dark light display 

Along with all-new exhibitions inside the museum, the building’s facade was also transformed into its own nighttime display with colourful lights. The colour of the lights will typically change in accordance with the Japanese 24-season calendar, where one season only lasts 15 days. However, given the current circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, the museum decided that the lights would shine blue in honour of all the frontline workers and medical professionals working to fight the virus. 

Kyoto City Kyocera Museum

Taste Kyoto delicacies at Enfuse café

Everyone needs to fuel up after a few hours of art, so it’s appropriate that one of the museum's new additions is a modern cafe serving up local specialities. Enfuse café uses local ingredients in its dishes and prepares them with cooking techniques unique to Kyoto. There are also picnic sets available for those who prefer to eat out at nearby parks when the weather is good. 

Based on the original reporting by Ryuichiro Sato.

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