National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

The National Museum of Western Art (国立西洋美術館) is the premier public art gallery in Japan specializing in art from the Western tradition. The Museum is located in the museum and zoo complex in Ueno Park in Taito, central Tokyo.

The Museum is located in the museum and zoo complex in Ueno Park in Taito, central Tokyo. This popular Tokyo museum is also known by the English acronym NMWA (National Museum of Western Art).

NMWA has purchased art work every year since its establishment in its efforts to build and develop its permanent collection. The museum houses about 4,500 works, including examples of painting and sculpture from the 14th through the beginning of the 20th century. The museum’s holdings have expanded in the decades since the museum was first opened to the public:

Paintings; 18th century and earlier
The Main Building displays pre-18th-century paintings, including those by Veronese, Rubens, Brueghel, and Fragonard. Many of these paintings are religious paintings featuring imagery from Christianity.

Paintings: 19th-20th century
The New Wing displays 19th- to early 20th-century French paintings, including works by Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Moreau. The galleries also feature works by the next generation of artists, such as Marquet, Picasso, Soutin, Ernst, Miró, Dubuffet and Pollock.

Drawings
The NMWA drawing collection centers on works by such 18th- to 19th-century French artists as Boucher, Fragonard, Delacroix, Moreau, Rodin, and Cézanne.

Prints
The prints collection features works by Dürer, Holbein, Rembrandt, Callot, Piranesi, Goya, and Klinger, ranging from the 15th century through the early 20th century.

The museum exhibits works from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, many having been acquired since the museum’s opening. The museum’s purpose is to provide the public with opportunities to appreciate Western art.

Since its opening, the museum, as Japan’s only national institution devoted to Western art, has been involved in exhibitions, art work and document acquisition, research, restoration and conservation, education and the publication of materials related to Western art.

The museum is involved in the development and organization of a special exhibition every year. These exhibitions feature works on loan from private collections and museums both in and out of Japan. In 1963, NMWA created a splash on the international art scene by bringing together 450 works by Marc Chagall. The exhibition brought together Chagall’s work from 15 countries, including 8 paintings lent from the Soviet Union; and it was believed to be the most comprehensive show mounted during the artist’s lifetime.

The National Museum of Western Art was established in April 1959 and was based on the Matsukata Collection focusing on the Impressionist paintings and Auguste Rodin’s sculptures previously stored by the French government. The museum’s purpose is to provide the public with opportunities to appreciate western art. Since its opening, the museum, as Japan’s only national institution devoted to western art, has been involved in exhibitions, art work and document acquisition, research, restoration and conservation, education and the publication of materials related to western art.

The museum exhibits works from the Matsukata Collection as well as works created from the Renaissance to the early 20th century that have been acquired since the museum’s opening. The museum has purchased art work every year since its establishment in its efforts to build and develop its permanent collection. These permanent collection works are displayed in the Main Building (Le Corbusier, 1959) and New Wing (MAEKAWA Kunio, 1979) throughout the year.

The museum is involved in the development and organization of a special exhibition every year. These exhibitions feature works on loan from private collections and museums both in and out of Japan. The museum also co-sponsors exhibitions organized jointly with outside organizations, including major newspapers, that are held held twice a year. Special exhibitions are displayed in the Exhibition Galleries completed in 1997.

In April 2001, Japan’s national art museums became independent administrative corporations. Thus, the National Museum of Western Art is now under the umbrella organization known as the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art.

Tags: