The multi-story NMWA, reinforced concrete building was completed in March 1959 as a symbol of the resumption of diplomatic ties between Japan and France after World War II.
The museum developed around the core art collection of Matsukata Kojiro (1865-1950), whose thinking is mirrored in the museum he anticipated. Matsukata's acquisition strategies were designed to create the nucleus of what he hoped would become an evolving national museum specializing in Western art. The museum exhibits fine art works from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, many having been acquired since the museum's opening. The museum's purpose is to provide the public with opportunities to appreciate western art. Since its opening, the museum, as Japan's only national institution devoted to western art, has been involved in exhibitions, art work and document acquisition, research, restoration and conservation, education and the publication of materials related to western art.The museum is involved in the development and organization of a special exhibitions every year. These exhibitions feature works on loan from private collections and museums both in and out of Japan. In 1963, NMWA created a splash on the international art scene by bringing together 450 works by the French-Russian artist Marc Chagall. The exhibition brought together Chagall's work from 15 countries, including 8 paintings lent from the Soviet Union; and it was believed to be the most comprehensive show mounted during the artist's lifetime. The museum was built to house the collection of works gathered by the industrialist Matsukata K?jir? between 1920 and 1923. His collection had remained in England and France until after World War Two when the Japanese Government asked France for its return to Japan. After France stipulated that a French architect should design the museum that would house the collection, the works were returned to Japan. Le Corbusier was selected for the task of creating one of his unique buildings in Japan.
NMWA has purchased art work every year since its establishment in its efforts to build and develop its permanent collection. The museum houses about 6,500 works, including examples of painting and sculpture from the 14th through the beginning of the 20th century. The museum's holdings have expanded in the decades since the museum was first opened to the public.The Main Building displays pre-18th century paintings, including those by Veronese, Rubens, Brueghel, and Fragonard. Many of these paintings are religious paintings featuring imagery from Christianity.The New Wing displays 19th to early 20th century French paintings, including works by Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Moreau. The galleries also feature works by the next generation of artists, such as Marquet, Picasso, Soutin, Ernst, Miro, Dubuffet and Pollock. The NMWA drawing collection centers on works by such 18th to 19th century French artists as Boucher, Fragonard, Delacroix, Moreau, Rodin, and Cézanne.The prints collection features works by Durer, Holbein, Rembrandt, Callot, Piranesi, Goya, and Klinger, ranging from the 15th century through the early 20th century. In 2007, the building was registered by Japan on a UNESCO list for World Heritage cultural site candidates as an Important Cultural Property at the request of the French government.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Our Editor has been invited to visit Museums and cultural sites in mainland China, Korea, Vietnam. Myanmar, Thailand (Siam), Singapore, Bali and mainland Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and now Japan again. Because of the Editor's travel we will be posting interesting articles from our archives, some of the BEST Articles and Art Images that appeared in your magazine during the past six plus (6+) years . . Enjoy.