Last year I was lucky enough to be one of the students in my university invited to attend the soft opening of Oita Prefectural Art Museum. It was a great experience for me and a pretty rare opportunity because the Museum itself will not be open for public until April 2015, there were only a limited number of people who are lucky enough to be invited by the director of OPAM, Ryu NIIMI.
As the director in charge of Oita Prefectural Art Museum, Mr. NIIMI has a vision to introduce the values of arts in Oita prefecture which is being shaped by the long historical background of its reach cultural diffusion and religious influence from several different religion such as Shintoism, Buddhism, and even Christianity in this brand new base of arts exhibition at the centre of Oita city.
Architecture of the museum
Oita Prefectural Art museum has a unique atmosphere as the building has a concept to connect the inner part of the museum to its surrounding environment, which made it feel fully accessible by those who wanted to drop by. Thanks to one of Japan talented architect named Shigeru Ban who is in charge of OPAM architecture. One of Shigeru Ban most noticeable work on architecture is his design for the Centre Pompidou in Metz, France. Ban is famous with his effort at the NGO called VAN (Voluntary Architects Network) which was established by Ban, whom actively operates in providing temporary housing facility using recyclable materials in many areas around the world that being impacted by natural disaster, he was also recently achieved an accomplishment as the winner of 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in architecture.
He came up with this unique concept of a museum that is close to the public and become part of everyone’s daily life. It is a museum that could be accessible for those who wanted to drop by even only for a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee and a nice talk about the beautiful world of arts, fusing the habit of enjoying arts in to the daily life of its visitors.
The first floor will provide a café corner for the visitors. You could enjoy watching the arts exhibition while having a cup of coffee. Those glass panels on the most front side of the building could be folded up when the weather is clear outside the building to create the connection between the interior of this museum with its exterior environment.
On the first floor there are also exhibitions about the birth of OPAM. Along the first floor main hall, there are some big portrait showing the construction process of OPAM from the beginning until it was fully established to the visitors.
There is also an art gallery on the first floor which is divided into several gallery rooms for different art collections, this one is the gallery room for the photography collection which is also featured the latest digital pigment print artwork by Ali Uchida.
This one part of the gallery room piqued my interest. It is an art collection corner featured the selection of all hand-drawn pictures by elementary school students all over Kyushu who won the prize in a competition called “Junior Picture prize for Homage to Maestro”.
Moving to the second floor, compare to the first floor, there were not much exhibition going on the second floor because most of the space on this floor would be used as a workshop corner for hand craft. After the grand opening, there will be hand craft workshops being held regularly on the second floor for the visitors.
The third floor of this museum is quite special even though all the exhibition halls and the galleries are still empty, there is something unique with the design. The wall that separated each segment of this exhibitions hall could move from one segment into the other segment of the room occasionally, so do not need to get tired from walking around the exhibitions hall because the gallery itself will literally move around you.
There will be a lot of exhibitions on the third floor because this entire floor serve as the main exhibitions hall of Oita Prefectural Art Museum. The promotion department of Oita Prefectural Art Museum is planning to feature the finest artwork on this floor, one of their plan is to show a Japanese national treasure and artwork by world famous artist such as Picasso and Van Gogh in this exhibition hall.
Oita Prefectural Art museum is also connected to the NHK Oita main office building, which is actually located next to it by a pedestrian deck that also available for the visitors who wanted to access the museum directly from NHK Oita main office building.
2-1 Kotobuki-Machi, Oita, Japan
It only takes for 10 minutes by walking from Oita station to reach Oita Prefectural Art Museum. The grand opening will be held at the beginning of April 2015 this spring, make sure to drop by when you visit Oita city around that time.