If you find yourself near Tokyo Station with time to spare, consider checking out the newly opened Artizon Museum, curated by the Ishibashi Foundation Collection. With a diverse mix of contemporary and classic art, the Artizon Museum makes for a perfect art break in central Tokyo

The Artizon Museum, a great art break in Tokyo.

A Newly Reborn Art Museum

Looking around at the sleek, cutting-edge building, visitors might be unaware that an art museum has always been here. In 1952, Shojiro Ishibashi, the founder of the Bridgestone Corporation, opened an art museum in the Bridgestone Building. Ishibashi was an avid art collector as well as a keen inventor and businessman. As a result, today the Ishibashi Foundation Collection contains over 3,000 works of art. In fact, its group of Impressionist works are considered the best collection of Impressionist paintings in Asia. 

Famous Impressionist paintings curated by the Ishibashi Foundation Collection.
A Monet at the Artizon Museum

However, after 65 years as the Bridgestone Museum of Art, the museum closed in order to undergo a major renovation. The result is the impressive Artizon Museum, a portmanteau of “art” and “horizon.” The museum’s new motto is “experiencing creativity”, and through a combination of visiting collections, collaborations with contemporary artists, and thoughtful exhibits curated from its permanent collection, it succeeds in doing just that. 

What to See at the Museum

With such a vast collection to curate from, plus the addition of visiting works and collaborations, each visit to the museum potentially offers something new to visitors. It’s not a huge building, but tall and narrow. The seemingly endless glass windows as you move through the lobby give the impression of a modern cathedral. The exhibitions are displayed on the 4th-6th floors, which the museum staff recommend visiting by going to the top floor and making your way down. 

Interior of the Artizon Museum.
A contemporary art exhibit by Tomoko Konoike.

Particularly exciting is the museum’s Jam Sessions, joint showings of works from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection alongside the work of contemporary artists. For the inaugural Jam Session, the foundation partnered with Tomoko Koike, an Akita-born artist who draws inspiration from the natural world and sees humans as “creatures undergoing repeated transformations.” The resulting installation, utilizing such diverse materials as animal skins and shoji paper doors, was as playful as it was thought-provoking.

A work by Tomoko Konoike
A work by Tomoko Konoike
A work by Tomoko Konoike at the Artizon Museum.
A work by Tomoko Konoike

Even with its more traditional exhibits, the Artizon museum is seeking new horizons along seemingly well-trodden paths. The 4th-floor houses selections from the Ishibashi Collection. Also on this floor are some special sections to shed new light on these older works. Recently, one of these special sections aimed to highlight the often-overlooked women artists active during the Impressionist movement and showcased five newly acquired pieces by four of the major female Impressionists. 

Impressionist paintings from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection.
One of the museum's recently acquired Impressionist works.
One of the museum’s recently acquired Impressionist works.

Visiting the Artizon Museum

The Artizon Museum’s proximity to Tokyo Station makes it perfect for those with just a few hours to spare. Other facilities at the museum include a gift shop, a cafe, and an information room. The museum also has an extensive learning program, including Saturday Lectures, gallery talks, and more. 

The Info Room at the Artizon Museum.

To visit the museum, you must reserve a day and time in advance via the website and can enter using the ticket QR code sent to your email. There is a free audio guide you can use on your phone as well. Admission is ¥1,100, with entry free for students and children. However, high school and university students still need to make a reservation on the website. 

Name: Artizon Museum
Address: 1-7-2 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Open: 10:00-18:00 (last entry 17:30; closed on Mondays)
URL: here

Post by Japan Journeys.