Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Kyoto's Gion district developed over a millenia as a home away from home for travelers and pilgrims arriving in the ancient capital. The character of the neighborhood has changed over the centuries; the shadowy streets of geisha and pilgrims have been brightened, and the area is now home to charming cafés and museums, including the recently opened Forever Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Connecting to Gion’s history as home to geisha performances and the spring shows performed in the neighborhood, the venue hosts performances by local performers. The museum’s directors have planned to occupy this space for a limited time, and it almost feels as if the FMOCA is itself an ambitious installation project.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art looks out on traditional gardens. In cooler seasons, one can look out on the sparse beauty from behind glass, but in warmer months, guests can stroll the grounds. The attached café, Northshore, is another place to unwind and enjoy Instagrammable healthy sandwiches, granola, salads and fruit bowls.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    For those accustomed to browsing contemporary art in sterile, spare environs, the traditional interior provides an interesting contrast to the work. The tatami mats necessitates shoe removal before entering, and that, along with the quiet atmosphere, makes for a particularly relaxing experience.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    The bulk of the museum’s collection is made up of works by Yayoi Kusama, a graduate of the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts. Kusama trained in traditional arts before making a name for herself with abstract work marked by a preoccupation with polka dot pointillism and jumping to the New York scene in the late 1950s. Through the 1960s, Kusama was one of the world’s most famous contemporary artists, but as her career and her mental health declined, she returned to Japan and went into self imposed exile followed by stints in mental health facilities. Collections like the one at FMOCA are part of a recent revival of interest in Yayoi Kusama’s work.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Kusama’s psychedelic polka dot pumpkins are scattered across Japan, now, including the photogenic installation on Naoshima Island and the collection of red and white examples that were hung to kick off the opening of the Ginza Six mall in Tokyo. FMOCA hosts its own, as well, reclining beside a cherry tree in the front courtyard. Visit the gift shop to pick up a plush replica, and other Yayoi Kusama knick knacks.

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    Forever Museum of Contemporary Art

    For those with a particular interest in Kusama’s work, the museum is a gold mine. But the marriage of traditional esthetics in the interiors and the garden and modern art will be compelling even for those unfamiliar with her work or the special collections. The museum, a short walk from the Yasaka Shrine, makes the perfect destination to a stroll in the Gion district.

    Forever Gendai Art Museum gion Kyoto
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Gionmachiminamigawa 570 - 2 Gion Ko Department Store
    Phone
    0755320270
    Gion Kobu Kaburenjo
    Address
    Kyoto Pref. Kyoto City Higashiyama-ku Gionmachi-minamigawa570-2
    Phone
    0755611117
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