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  • Writer's picturegordonjcampbell

A World-Class venue to view priceless western art in Tokyo. Who knew?

The Artizon Museum is a must-visit for art lovers and a timely and welcome option for safe recreation in downtown Tokyo.

When my wife suggested visiting the Artizon Museum on a Saturday in downtown Tokyo, my reaction wasn't supportive. "How could we face the crowds, avoid the COVID-19 risk, pay for expensive parking, and were the exhibits worthy of the effort?”

Suggestions for family recreation are rarely offered without the backing of serious research. After digesting my wife’s rebuttal, we purchased tickets online, allowing a 2 p.m. entrance into the museum.

(We also downloaded an English friendly museum app to our cell phones to listen to the commentary.)

It was a remarkable afternoon starting with flowing traffic, and we reached the Takashimaya Department Store’s parking lot in Nihonbashi in record time.

(A purchase of two thousand yen at the Takashimaya Department Store allows for a three-hour discount on parking fees.)

The Artizon Museum was formally called the Bridgestone Museum and is the legacy of the Ishibashi family. The new name recognizes the renewed direction of the museum, which includes the beautiful new building opened this year.

(Ishibashi translates from Japanese to English as Stone Bridge. The art patron and founder of Bridgestone, Shojiro Ishibashi, reversed his family name when he started the Bridgestone Tire Company.)

We stepped into the spacious open ceiling design of the museum’s entrance and recognized its intent to be welcoming and intuitive.

(The architecture incorporates a seismic isolation system which will protect the museum’s priceless art in the event of earthquakes and tidal waves.)

We were safe.

Everyone in the venue wore a face mask, antibacterial spray stations were spaced around every floor, and our temperature was taken before being allowed into the museum. The timed entrance system reduces crowds, and we felt comfortable while moving through the world-class exhibits.

The museum’s 6th floor hosts a Jam Session exhibit, which mixes contemporary art with works from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection. The interaction between Tomoko Konoike’s work (which deploys leather, fur, lithographs, and magic lanterns) is contrasted with art by masters such as Gustave Courbet. It was memorable.

A second temporary exhibit first presented at the Japan Pavilion during the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is found on the museum’s fifth floor and is called “Cosmo-Eggs.” The collaboration between an artist, composer, an anthropologist, an architect, and a curator explores coexistence themes.

We spent most of our time on the fourth floor of the museum and enjoying Impressionism and related trends.

Our favorites were a painting by Claude Monet called Twilight-Venice, a Jackson Pollock called Number 2 on canvas, and Pablo Picasso’s Saltimbanque Seated with Arms Crossed.

Lovers of late 19th century Impressionists will be thrilled by works by Manet, Morisot, Gonzales, Renoir, Cassatt, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

An exhibit of numerous paintings by Paul Klee was featured in a wing for New Acquisitions.

Sculpture by Boccioni, Degas, Rodin, Brancusi, Bourdelle, Zadkine, Archipenko, are all sprinkled around the exhibits.

The Artizon doesn't show all its cards, and we'll be returning to enjoy more of Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Vincent van Gogh at the very next opportunity.

It was a breath of fresh air and a mental health booster shot.

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