Naoshima – Island of Art


A while ago, I posted about the 007 Museum in Naoshima. Of course it’s not the only tourist attraction on the island and it’s not even close to be the most popular one. Naoshima is known as the “art island” and has several art museums with exhibits by various well-known artists. The island is also well prepared for tourists with a shuttle bus connecting the various art sites and the port.

First, I bought a ticket for the Chichu Art Museum. There is a reserved ticket system in place for that particular museum during peak times when lots of visitors are expected. Outside those times, you may buy a ticket on the day by getting a waiting number. The time when you are able to buy the actual ticket is printed on the ticket. In my case, I had lots of time going to the other museums.

Benesse House Museum

Opened in 1992, Benesse House Museum is a facility consisting of four buildings, integrating a museum and a hotel. Some exhibits where created specifically for this museum and thus can only be seen in Naoshima. Tadao Ando is the architect of both the Benesse House and Chichu Art Museum. While I enjoyed the works inside the museum, I did like the works of art outside around the museums premises and Naoshima’s shore more. Here you can find Niki de Saint Phalle’s colorful sculptures.

I’m sure I missed a few of the art pieces located around the museum, but one piece I didn’t miss was the famous dotted pumpkin. There is actually another pumpkin located near Miyanoura Port, but the yellow pumpkin is the more scenic one.

Still got time till it’s your turn for the Chichu Art Museum? Why not take a walk? It’s just a fifteen minute walk from Benesse House to the Art Museum and you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Naoshima’s shore.

Chichu Art Museum

Besides the waiting system, you should also be aware that tickets are not sold inside the museum, but at the ticket center located downhill from the entrance. Another notable thing is that even if you buy your ticket at the right time and get to the museum, you might have to wait to enter one of the exhibits. Chichu Art Museum is home to a rather small collection of art pieces, just a handful in fact. If you expect a large contemporary art museum, you will be disappointed especially given the high ticket price (2060 Yen).

Inside the Chichu Art Museum, you will find five paintings by Claude Monet, a vast art space created by Walter De Maria with a black sphere and three works by light artists James Turrell. Three years before I saw a Turrell exhibition at Wolfsburg’s art museum, but Chichu Art Museum seems like a natural fit for his work, as the museum itself uses light as art. Natural light is used to illuminate Walter De Maria’s work and in other parts of the museum (the museum is mostly underground). Natural light also illuminates the paintings of Monet.

With only three different artists represented in the museum’s exhibits (four, if you count the museum as a piece of art), there has to be a theme connecting the three. After my visit, I felt that Monet wasn’t as well connected to the two other artists. The reason is probably the media used: Both De Maria and Turrell design spaces, while in Monet’s case, the museum tried to design the space around the paintings.

Author: MiaJaap

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