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Museum of encounters - The Oita Prefectural Art Museum (Interview)

印刷用ページを表示する 更新日:2013年5月20日更新

  OPAM 大分県立美術館 Oita Prefectural Art Museum

Interview with Mr. Ryu Niimi, Future Director of the Oita Prefectural Art Museum


Date : April 11th 2013 (Thursday)

Mr. Ryu Niimi

Originally, with the new installation of the Oita Prefectural Art Museum, I thought it would have been normal for someone much my senior, or someone more accomplished to be asked to take on the position. So it gives me great honor to have been selected for this position by Governor Hirose and the people of the Oita Prefecture.

 Mr. Ban’s architecture is extremely original and affluent, and will be extremely important for art from hereafter. I think that this will be the kind of new art museum that will open up to many people, and allow them to enjoy art without taking it too seriously. It is probably thought that unless a young person does it, running and enlivening this art museum will be a difficult task. I think that might be the reason why a novice such as myself was selected.

 However, there is no way that this art museum will not be made into an absolute success. I intend to take on this job as though I were 99% of Oita Prefecture’s citizens.

 Although it is difficult to say in just a few words what sort of art museum I want to make, I think that Oita itself has universality. Oita Prefecture’s natural features and rich humanity, in addition to its adoption of Eurasian and ‘Nanban’ culture, creates that truly fantastic universality. Therefore, I believe that Oita itself is a cosmopolitan. I also believe that each of these fantastic things will create many legacies.

 With this new art museum as a springboard, I hope to have people experience these things. I think that there are numerous success stories regarding art museums that have brought highly praised items from overseas to Japan, which are displayed as treasures. Considering those fantastic achievements, I am thinking of a museum that is fundamentally a museum of encounters.

 I wish to once more revive Oita’s universality and create a realm of encounters where the culture of Oita meets with the culture of the world. I wish to create a type of museum where people can encounter a variety of different genres such as the fantastic artists of Oita including: Tatsuo Takayama, bamboo culture, food culture and many other things.

 The concept is encounters. Because an art museum is a place of encountering oneself, I think the objective is to encounter Oita itself, or rather, to encounter the universality of Oita and the art in oneself.

 In simple terms, it can be regarded as a playground. It is a playground for rich spirits, a playground for each and every person to experience whilst thoroughly enjoying themselves.

 The inauguration is two years away, but many things are already being prepared. Of course, these have to be publicized, but we are in the process of creating exhibitions that extensively capture modernity. This will involve artists such as Tatsuo Takayama, Teppei Ujiyama, Heihachiro Fukuda, the ‘Nanga’ works of Chikuden, as well as Shouno’s bamboo works and Fumio Asakura, most of who are people from modern times.


 To put it clearly and give a specific example, the important cultural properties such as earthen images and wooden sculpture that were previously retained in temples of the 8th Century are currently being featured in the Oita Prefectural Museum of History. However, when I see these, I think that these are fantastic and Oita’s universality should not only be seen in history museums but also in art museums. At that moment, if we were to borrow something from overseas, I thought that Klimt’s Nuda Veritas, the birth of Venus, would be good. It would mean ‘The Birth of Venus’ encounter in Oita. However, if we just bring fantastic and famous works from overseas, it would be better to just go overseas. Therefore, what I would like for the works that come from overseas to encounter the works of Oita and share mutual surprise. Rather, art is surprising, so I believe that it is it an encounter to be grasped by everyone from children to people other than specialists of art.

 One must encounter genres, so I wish to create encounters in the same way that ballet encounters art, the way that literature and poetry encounters art, or the way that design and architecture encounters artwhich is close to one’s livelihood. Additionally, we must encounter Japan’s traditions. So, in the opening plan, we will gather works by artists who are representative of Japan and of Oita, foreign masterpieces, traditional items of Japanese domestic antique art, and pieces that can be considered modern. We are thinking of exhibitions that have not been seen before, where you can meet traditional and modern in their entirety.

I sincerely hope to create an art museum that will make Oita’s universality known domestically and internationally, and I think that Oita has a sufficient foundation for this.


In the case of art museums, I think that everyone believes that they must offer up great treasures. However this is just a single means. Through this art museum and art, I hope to have everyone of the prefecture, including children, experience this feeling of living richly through the art that is inside each and every one of us. I hope to make this a base for cultural literacy of the prefecture.

 Because we will create something on a vast scale, it is not merely culture alone that will become self-reliant and come into existence as a remarkable entity. I hope that we can connect industries in the region and secure this as a base for arts, culture and a final industry for the 21st Century.

If we skillfully use the various resources of the people in the prefecture including Governor Hirose and other supporters, I think that we can certainly make a unique art museum of the 21st Century that will exist only in Oita, with no pretenses from anywhere else in the world. I will devote my whole life to this purpose and I humbly ask for your cooperation.



(Reporter: The architecture planned by Mr. Shigeru Ban is quite unique, and I think it there are parts that go above that of existing art museums. How do you plan to utilize the parts of the building other than the exhibition rooms, which are intended for gathering people together and holding events?)


oita art museum  There is one lobby space, the city, and the hall. In planning such things in an art museum, the question is how to take a hold of them. In order to be able to conduct the external plans, the internal plans must cooperate; but as to whether or not we can do this in reality, I am not sure.

 To speak from the image, Oita has an extremely abundant food culture, and eating can easily be connected to art. Da Vinci’s The Last Supper which you all know, is a mural and therefore it cannot be brought here. However, among the masterpieces of Japan and the world there are many works that depict eating. In the event that such items were collected in Oita, an outdoor bazaar could be held where people could encounter things including cooking classes that combine the masterpieces with Oita culture, workshops, a tableware market, and interior exterior designed cutlery. I am not thinking of having the interior and exterior be such separate spaces. I believe that no matter how small the plan, whether it is an udon restaurant, a sushi restaurant, an art museum, or prefectural government; if there is no project mission, it will not come together. I wish to make an ideal and meaningful plan that is currently necessary for Oita and Japan, one that is not difficult to understand and where everyone can enjoy themselves.



[Mr. Ryu Niimi’s career summary]

1982: Graduated from Keio University, Department of Literature

              Planned many exhibitions as curator at the Seibu Museum of Art and the Sezon Museum of Art

1999: Appointed as professor of Arts Policy and Management Department at Musashino Art University

2011: Awarded The Western Art Foundation’s Scholar Award at the Panasonic Shiodome Museum’s ‘Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932’ exhibition

 -> The Oita Prefectural Art Museum to open in 2015!

-> Architect Shigeru Ban - The Oita Prefectural Art Museum (Interview)

 -> The Oita Prefectural Art Museum logo "OPAM"