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Kanazawa City

How to Best Enjoy the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa

Opened in 2004, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is a museum designed to generate new culture and revitalize the city. It is a popular sightseeing spot that is visited by 2 million guests annually. Here are some attractions and must-see spots in this museum.

1. Enjoy the building

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa was designed by the architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa who form the group SANAA. These two architects are famous all over the world, and have helped design major museum buildings in recent years, including the Louvre-Lens in France. The circular building of the Kanazawa museum, which was designed based on the concept of a museum that looks like a park for encounters and experiences where anybody can drop in, has a seamless transition with no partition between the front and back sides so guests can come in from anywhere within the premises. The exterior and walls inside the building are made of glass, creating a transparent, bright and expansive space. With this, it is a luxurious museum where people can appreciate modern art in a comfortable space with an open feeling.

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The rest space inside the museum is lined with rabbit chairs designed by SANAA.

1. Enjoy the building

1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa

2. Marvel at the displays in the Exchange Zone (Free Zone)

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, is committed to creating an environment and displaying works of contemporary art that are not limited to being viewed, as visitors will also be able to see, touch, and experience them. Outdoors, there are displays that your five senses will enjoy, such as the Color Activity House by Olafur Eliasson and Wrapping by Fernando Romero. The Exchange Zone in the periphery of the museum houses the Art Library, Design Gallery, and other areas that are free of charge where guests can come at any time and touch contemporary art, as the name of the zone suggests. Further, there is a Kids’ Studio and Daycare Center, so guests can enjoy museum pieces in a leisurely manner even with small children in tow.

The permanent displays outside the museum are very popular among children.

This is the Blue Planet Sky by James Turrell. It lets guests see the sky from a rectangular hole in a cubic space in order to experience the endless transformation of light from morning to night.

3. Appreciate the permanent and planned exhibitions

The paid exhibition zone located in the center of the circular building has 14 exhibit rooms with different sizes, heights, and designs where collections and various other exhibits are held. Every exhibit room is rectangular in shape, but they transform into various kinds of space depending on the size and lighting. The exhibit rooms are separated from one another, so there is an expansive feeling inside the building. The two zones in this museum are designed to enable natural exchange so when you move in between exhibit rooms, you will see the Exchange Zone, and feel the vibe of both areas through the courtyard that is located at the border of the free and paid zones. One of the main characteristics of this museum is that it opens exhibit rooms not used for planned exhibits into free zones, so every exhibit zone can transform into a free zone.

"You Renew You" by Pipilotti Rist

This is the "Green Bridge" by Patrick Blanc in the Light Court at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. This work showcases the beauty of Japan's four seasons using about 100 plant varieties suited to the climate of Kanazawa planted on barely 14cm thick walls.

4. Have lunch at the cafe Fusion21

Located at the east exit of the museum, the cafe Fusion21 serves dishes that contain large amounts of “Kaga yasai (Kaga vegetables)” and other local ingredients under the concept of “yet another moving experience at the art museum”. During lunch, the Fusion Lunch (1,800 JPY) that comes with an appetizer buffet with around 30 dishes, and pasta and meat sauce rice is very popular. The white-themed restaurant interior is filled with a bright, clean feel, making it the perfect place to take a breather after going around the museum and looking at art. Sit on the chairs by the glass-paneled side and gaze at the green surrounding the museum and people who pass by. This is a great place for passing the time with a little luxury while eating sweets that are made fresh every morning.

4. Have lunch at the cafe Fusion21

1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa

5. Enjoy the museum at night (only at the Free Open Zone)

Guests can enter the Exchange Zone at any time until 10:00 pm. The serene museum at night is recommended for its vibe that is completely different from its feel during the day. Even the displayed works show another facet that is different from their faces at day, giving guests a sense of the impact of light and sound to the works. Further, the dimly lit museum casts a magical sight that rises against the darkness, creating spellbinding beauty. This is definitely recommended to those who want to experience a romantic atmosphere in the museum.

Kanazawa City

Nighttime, when shadows disappear, shows a more beautiful kind of whiteness and transparency to the walls of the museum.

This is the Color Activity House by Olafur Eliasson that showcases another face of the museum. It is lit up, filling the place with a magical vibe.

There are still a lot more must-see spots at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. This museum is a building that becomes one with the artworks displayed and showcases amazing modern art with various kinds of experiential exhibits and collections. You have to go and check out this museum and its sights if you can!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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