Thursday, September 20, 2007

39. Museum Review: MOT - Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (Koto-ku)

I have never been a fan of museums with 'contemporary' in their titles because they are usually full of abstract art (of which I am not a fan). I made the decision to visit MOT because of a special exhibition of art by Kazuo Oga, the man behind the stunning animation art in 'Princess Mononoke', 'Howl's Moving Castle', 'Totoro',... It was a good decision.
I was pleasantly surprised by this museum. Located in a part of town not known for its architectural design, this is a beautiful building. Huge white rooms lit by natural skylights are mixed with natural wood and massive stone blocks. I agree with the museum's brochure that says 'the space itself is part of the art'.

The temporary exhibition gallery was also much larger than I expected. There were hundreds of examples of Kazuo Oga's art, spread out over two entire floors. In addition, there were films, places to take your photo with blown up copies of some of his work, a Totoro origami workshop,... I thought it was well worth the 1,100 yen exhibition fee.
With everyone viewing Oga's work, the permanent collection gallery was practically empty. Along with the standard abstract work that I do not really appreciate, there were a number of very interesting exhibits and displays that I did find very interesting. And, the museum has a number of pieces by famous foreign artists (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein,...)
Currently the star attraction is a monstrous (and monster filled) work called 'Myth of Tomorrow' by Taro Okamoto. A very bizarre abstract, the sheer size of the piece was impressive. There are also many outdoor sculptures in the museum grounds.

In addition to the museum exhibitions; there is a restaurant, cafe, museum shop, art library, Internet cafe, and AV Gallery.
I would recommend a visit to this museum, even if your only purpose is to check out the architecture. Visit on a day the weather is nice and have a picnic in just outside in Kiba Koen (park).

**Advice concerning special exhibitions at any Japanese museums: Do not, under any circumstances, visit a special exhibition right when it opens or right before it closes. Also, don't visit on a Sunday or national holiday. Even Saturdays are mobbed. I arrived 15 minutes after the museum opened on a Thursday, there were already hundreds of people crammed into the exhibit, all of them lined up to look at each and every piece. As it was early, I just skipped the first two rooms and things thinned out. Unfortunately, this only works if you arrive just after the museum opens.

Hours of Operation: 10:00 - 18:00 (last entry at 17:30).

Closed on Mondays (the next day if Monday is a national holiday).

Admission for the permanent collection: Adults - 500 yen, University students - 400 yen, High school and adults over 65 - 250 yen. Jr. high students and younger are free.
There are discounts for groups over 20.
Address: Metropolitan Kiba Park, 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku 135-0022
Phone: 03-5245-4111

Access: There are a number of subways stops nearby (Kiyosumi-shirakawa, Kiba, Kikukawa,...). There are also buses from Tokyo and Kinshicho Stations, and paid parking is available.

**Free entry to the permanent collection with the Grutt Pass 2007 (#41).
**Grutt Pass also has a discount coupon for special exhibitions.

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