Text by Nahoko Yamaguchi (translated by Ayaka Aoyama)
My favorite places in Tokyo? I would have to say, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. Both these museums were originally private houses back in the 1930s and have been renovated since.
As the natural sunlight shines through the windows and the light gradually changes from morning to midday, then afternoon and finally from evening to night, the atmosphere of the rooms also change. It evokes the lives of the people that used to live there. I found a beauty in the shower of light from the large windows and shadows tracing the details of the architecture. There may be fleeting moments when we can see what the previous owners saw all those years ago almost as if the rooms were suspended in time.
The building of Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum was originally built for the Prince Asaka as his and his family’s residence in the forests of Shirokane in 1933. Due to its remarkable architecture which brings together French Art Deco design with Japanese traditional construction techniques from a team at the Imperial Household Ministry’s Construction Bureau, the building was designated as one of Tokyo’s tangible cultural properties. The museum was closed for three years for a major renovation and restoration bringing back its original features in all their glory.
Just next to the Former Prince Asaka Residence is a newly constructed Annex containing new white cube galleries, a museum shop and a café. An inaugural exhibition by Rei Naito who was born in Hiroshima in 1961 is currently taking place there as well as in part of the main building.
Naito traces memories of when the museum was once somebody’s home. She embraces what she senses from the atmosphere and consolidates that feeling within herself. Her work creates tranquility and subtlety giving the viewer a sense of perspective on the history of the space, therefore this exhibition symbolizes the beginning of a new era for the museum.
It all comes from somewhere: the light, the colors, the shapes, the gaze, the flowers, the glittering trees, the birdsong, these emotions, and life itself. The emotion of belief suddenly came to mind while I was spending some time alone at the Teien Art Museum. (Full text of the interview, please refer to the museum website.)