”Island of Art” floating in the Seto Inland Sea. Enjoy the unrealistic feeling at the annexed hotel and the night museum.
This is the Contemporary Art museum in Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture. Opened in 1992. At that time, the only contemporary art museum in Tokyo, Japan that come to mind are the Hara Museum (closed in January 2021) and the Watarium Art Museum. In that sense, this is the pioneer of the Contemporary Art museum.
In 2004, the Chichu Art Museum opened about 5 minutes by bus from this Benesse House. Then, when the Setouchi Triennale began in 2010, Naoshima became a world-famous place as an island of contemporary art. In other words, this Benesse House is the museum that became the starting point of its history as the origin of contemporary art.
This museum has the great concept, this museum has a hotel. I have walked around the world, but I have never seen a museum with a hotel. It is a novel idea, and it is commendable in the sense that it is shaped and realized.
There are four hotels under the names of “Museum”, “Oval”, “Park” and “Beach”. The Hotel “Museum” is attached to the building where the main museum of Benesse House is located, and Hotel “Oval” insists that the guest-only monorail from the museum building. Hotel “Park” and Hotel “Beach” are about 5-minute walk from Benesse House.
The museum opens until 9 pm, but hotel guests have the privilege of viewing it until 11 pm. It is a place where embodying the so-called “Night Museum”. The Hotel “Museum” room is beside the exhibition area, and can relax in the room at night. If thinking “Oh, I want to see that artwork now”, the artwork is just outside the room. It is excellent that can view artworks in an empty environment.
The exhibited artworks are variety. Well-known artists include David Hockney, Tatsuo Miyajima, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Yukinori Yanagi, and Bruce Nauman. Yukinori Yanagi had four artworks. “Banzai Corner” and “The Forbidden Box” were daring artworks. As for the meaning of this artwork, please join to the daily gallery tour (free of charge) at this museum and listen to it. When I heard this story, I groaned at its depth for a while. It reminds me of something I forgot, “Contemporary art must be like this.”
Another highlight is Bruce Nauman’s neon artwork “100 Live and Die” and the space where this artwork is exhibited. There are only one artwork in a space that is about 15 meters high to the ceiling. There is a chair in front of the artwork. It is soothing to sit in a chair and watch the neon flash in the late night or early in the morning in an empty silence. It is a wonderful space.
When I visited in 2022, There are full of artworks by Hiroshi Sugimoto at the space downstairs from the front entrance of Hotel “Park” building. If Hiroshi Sugimoto is the favorite artist, it is worth to visit.
Finally, I would like to write about Hotel “Oval”. This Hotel “Oval” is on the mountain, about 4 minutes on the guest-only monorail from the building where the museum locates. The monorail seats 6 people. It is full of playfulness and the view of the “Seto Inland Sea” below is wonderful. I am impressed, “How this could be made？”
As the name suggests, there is an oval-shaped (oval, egg-shaped) artificial pond, and 6 rooms are arranged around it. It is full of unreality. The room overlooks the Seto Inland Sea, and there is nothing extra in the room. I think there is no better place to calm, relax and retire when something is unpleasant in a daily life. Accommodation costs are high. However, it is worth to stay.
In addition, although photography was prohibited at the time of the first visit, it was possible to take pictures at the time of 2022 visit. Accroding to the person at museum, photography is possible from March 2021. By the way, one artwork prohibits photography, that is interesting. Please participate onto gallery tour and ask for the reason.
Visited in 2010, 2022.
■ Name of Place：Benesse House
■ Address : Kotodanchi, Naoshima-cho Kagawa-gun, Kagawa-ken, Japan
■ Homepage : http://benesse-artsite.jp/en/art/benessehouse-museum.html
(described on Feb 10 2019)
(latest update on Apr 29 2022)