With various cultural facilities built side by side, Ueno, located in the northeast of central Tokyo, is one of the globally leading cities of arts and culture. Among those famous and popular facilities, the National Museum of Western Art holding profound history, has taken various attempts to attract wider variety of visitors.
The National Museum of Western art operates under “Act on Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art”. In this act, the purpose is stated as “to aim for promotion of art and other culture by establishing a museum, collecting art related works and other archives, preserving and providing those to the public eyes, and by performing related research, study or education and diffusion.”
At the National Museum of Western Art, indeed they work hard about collecting art pieces and doing research, studying and displaying of those. However, they also focus on contributing to the social education which differs from schooling, to provide a space for lifelong learning which deepen one’s life, and to give people opportunities for communication.
To solve the gradual decline of young audiences and to make them return, raising their aesthetic vision and evoking enthusiasm for art has become more important than it was in the past. “We are playing the role of nurturing future audiences,” says Takanori Minamikawa, the head administrator of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo.
One of the most successful exhibitions in recent years was “Arcimboldo exhibition”. Children were staring at the face of a colorful and exciting man composed of vegetables and fruits, with their eyes shining. This success did not only come from the attraction of the painting itself, but also the strategic operation of the art museum.
In order to have children enjoy the painting to the utmost, The National Museum of Western Art has taken various measures. For example, in the experience corner, by standing in front of the camera, their faces will turn into faces composed of vegetables just like Arcimboldo. The Arcimboldo exhibition has created a new type of exhibition that captures children and young people with yet little art knowledge from that of traditional and somewhat uniform exhibitions.
However, can they reproduce such success? Mr. Minamikawa shakes his head. The operation of each art exhibitions is quite different. Therefore, in order to maximize the appeal of artworks, they have to invent new ideas. For the next Michelangelo exhibition, for example, they aim to acquire new range of visitors by appointing popular anime voice actor for voice guide and collaborating with professional wrestler for PR.
Also, in recent exhibitions, by allowing visitors to take photos of a part of the exhibition and having them post on SNS platforms, it leads to attract more people to the museum. In the most recent exhibition, for instance, his masterpiece “Laocoön” was placed as the camera-allowed sculpture.
Ueno has many cultural facilities gathered, and it is unparalleled worldwide. “People go to Ueno, away from everyday life, to seek for unusual and unique spaces,” Mr. Minamikawa says. What is necessary for creating a new art exhibition while keeping the relaxation space for art lovers and the aesthetics of the exhibition rooms? In the future, as a member of the Ueno community, the National Museum of Western Art holds great role in cooperating with other facilities to aim for further development.
Written by Daiki Ito, Han Zhichen , May Emilie Courquin
Edited by Mayu Yamakawa, Ryoko Shibata, Takeru Suzuki