The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is an innovative facility in central Kanazawa which houses several galleries of modern art as well as a library, café, and communal learning spaces. The building itself is celebrated for its unique exterior design and internal layout, and is now one of Kanazawa’s most popular tourist attractions.
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Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2004 and was designed by two famous Japanese architects: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the SANAA architecture studio. They created a low-lying and expansive, white, circular building that looks very much like a giant space ship that has landed quite neatly on the grass lawn that surrounds it. The museum has no main entrance and can be entered from all sides. This accessibility is emphasized by the glass walls that surround the museum’s exterior and which flood the galleries with natural light. Inside the museum many galleries are arranged in a puzzling maze of interconnecting rooms, which encourages a playful sense of exploration and discovery.
The Collection and Temporary Exhibitions
The museum has permanent installations and temporary exhibitions that display both Japanese and international contemporary artworks.
The art is conceptual but fun and encourages physical interaction, making the museum feel very relaxed and rather like a giant playground. For this reason many families with children visit the museum, and it is not unusual to see people laughing and smiling as they wander through the galleries.
The permanent installations are free to view and include brightly painted rocking chairs, a pavilion of colored glass, a hydraulic elevator, and a “swimming pool” you can enter without getting wet.
To view most of the temporary exhibitions you will need to pay a small fee.
The museum’s ticket counter is located on the east side of the building by the Honda-Dori Entrance.
Around the outside of the galleries there are a ring of facilities which include a café, a museum shop, a children’s playroom and nursery, a theater, a lecture room, and a library.
On the outside of the south side of the museum a historical Edo era tea house has been reassembled and is sometimes used for tea ceremonies. The museum also has coin lockers, drinking water dispensers, and wheelchair accessible toilets. Wheelchairs and baby strollers are available for rent.
The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is centrally located and very close to Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park.
From Kenrokuen you can walk to the museum in 6 minutes and from the castle you can walk there in 10 minutes. From Kanazawa Station it is a 20 minute bus ride. The Kanazawa Loop Bus leaves every few minutes from bus terminal 7 at the station’s East Exit and costs 200 yen. A taxi from the East Exit taxi stand will get you there in there 10 minutes.
Entry to the museum is free but temporary exhibitions are ticketed at 360 yen for adults (aged 16 and over), and 280 yen for University Students and senior citizens (aged 65 and over). Children can enter the exhibitions for free.
Public Areas: 9.00 – 22.00
Temporary Exhibitions: 10:00 – 18:00 (until 20:00 on Fridays & Saturdays)
The temporary exhibitions are closed on Mondays (Tuesdays if Monday is a National Holiday).
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.