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Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Traditional & modern art in a beautiful setting

Appreciation, Representation, Learning and Communication are the four "fundamental themes" of the Matsumoto City Museum of Art (Matsumoto-shi Bijutsu-kan) which features works by the city's most famous daughter, Yayoi Kusama, as well as other local artists.

Located a 10 minute walk up the main road from Matsumoto JR Station, the museum building is a work of art in itself. Built from glass and wood to take full advantage of the views of the outdoor lawn and the colorful giant "Flowers of Illusion" installation (Yayoi Kusama) in the front of the museum.

Funky, colorful Matsumoto native, Yayoi Kusama, makes a great contribution to this museum. From the giant vibrant flowers that greet you in front of the museum, to the dotted cola machines, to a collection of her work displayed in the permanent collection, Kusama’s cheerful, pop-art is whimsical, fun and uplifting. The Kusama exhibit starts with a few large murals and then takes the visitor on an Alice in Wonderland type of adventure through pumpkin forests, mirrored walls, flashing lights and dots, dots, dots.

The top floor of the museum has a memorial exhibit of a famous calligrapher and painter who lived in and loved Matsumoto. Shinzan Kimijyo wrote calligraphy on large pieces of paper in bold, artistically well-balanced ways. The information available in English gives the titles of the work and explains that Shinzan’s work puts as much importance on the white spaces of the paper as the character itself. There is an area in the middle set up for visitors to rub out a relief of kanji characters for you to take home as a souvenir.

The adjacent room shows the paintings of another local artist, Kazuo Tamura who painted the surrounding mountains you can see as a backdrop to Matsumoto city. There is also a reproduction of a room from his house to help you imagine how he lived.

A temporary exhibition on display when I visited was a collection of artwork, pottery, kimonos, household goods, tools and furniture showing the daily life of people who lived long ago. Similar items are on permanent display in a small museum located on the Nakamachi shopping street.

There is a good selection of postcards, t-shirts, stationery and other goods featuring works by the artists on display in the gift shop. A small restaurant serves western dishes in a pleasant grassy area behind the museum.

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Find out more about Matsumoto City Museum of Art.

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