Japan Tokyo Ueno

National Museum of Western Art

A testament to the interaction between Japanese and Western art through the Matsukata Collection

Photo of National Museum of Western Art, Japan (National Museum of Western Art in Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan 国立西洋美術館, 東京都台東区 by 663highland)

The National Museum of Western Art is a prominent cultural institution in Tokyo, Japan, specializing in Western art. Established in 1959, the museum is known for its main building designed by Le Corbusier and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The collection primarily features European art, with works from the medieval period to the 20th century, including pieces by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Rodin.

About National Museum of Western Art

Situated in Ueno Park, the National Museum of Western Art (NMWA) is especially noted for the Matsukata Collection, a significant array of Western art acquired by Kojiro Matsukata in the early 20th century. The museum was established after World War II to display this collection, which was returned to Japan from France with the understanding that a museum would be built for it. Currently, the museum’s holdings include approximately 4,500 items, representing movements such as the Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionism, and Cubism.

The architecture of the museum adds to its allure. The main building, realized by Le Corbusier’s vision in collaboration with Japanese architects Kunio Maekawa, Junzō Sakakura, and Takamasa Yoshizaka, stands as a model of the International Style. The 1998 seismic retrofit was an innovative endeavor in Japan, aimed at safeguarding the structure and its invaluable contents. For architecture aficionados, brochures detail the nuances of Le Corbusier’s design.

Within the NMWA, visitors can enjoy the permanent collection as well as frequently updated special exhibitions. These exhibitions delve into various themes and artists, offering a dynamic experience. The institution also promotes public engagement through educational endeavors, lectures, and workshops, nurturing an appreciation for Western art.

One of the museum’s highlights is its array of Rodin sculptures, such as “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell,” gracefully adorning the front garden. These pieces are accessible without entry fees, inviting guests to contemplate amidst the garden’s calm setting.

The museum’s collection spans a broad temporal scope, featuring pre-18th-century pieces to 19th-20th-century French art, drawings, and prints. Noteworthy past exhibitions include the “Barnes Foundation Exhibition,” which was highly attended.

Art enthusiasts and scholars are recommended to allow ample time to immerse in the museum’s diverse offerings, aligning visits with significant special exhibitions when possible. Beyond the NMWA, Ueno Park hosts other esteemed sites such as the Ueno Zoo and the Tokyo National Museum, complementing a rich cultural excursion in Tokyo.

Getting There the easiest way to reach National Museum of Western Art

JY 05

 JR Yamanote Line + 3 more

 5-10 minute walk (700m)
E 09

 Toei Oedo Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.0km)
C 13

 Chiyoda Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.1km)
G 17

 Ginza Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.1km)
H 19

 Hibiya Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.3km)
TX 02

 Tsukuba Express Line + 1 more

 10-20 minute walk (1.5km)

Around National Museum of Western Art

National Museum of Western Art

Art Museum in Tokyo

open 9:30am - 5pm (varies)
closed Monday, unless a holiday (and other days)


国立西洋美術館, 東京

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Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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