Museum Concept

Museum History

History

1921
March
SATO Keitaro, a Kyushu industrialist, donates one million yen.
1926
May
Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum opens (architect: OKADA Shinichiro. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum’s founding day: May 1st).
1943
October
Besides exhibitions showcasing works by art groups and societies, the Museum begins hosting touring exhibitions of art masterpieces from Japan and abroad.
Renamed Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum after Tokyo becomes a metropolitan prefecture.
1965~67
An investigation is conducted into the museum building’s deterioration.
1968
A preparatory committee for constructing a new building is established.
1972
Construction begins on the new museum building (architects: Mayekawa Kunio Associates)
1975
March
Construction is completed.
September
The new museum building opens. The Museum, which formerly had mainly leased gallery space, begins holding thematic exhibitions and cultural events, operates an art library, and actively collects artworks.
1977
March
The original building is demolished and a garden is created on its site.
1994
April
The Museum’s collection of artworks and art materials (except for 12 outdoor sculptures) is relocated to Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.
Hereafter, the Museum will focus on co-organized exhibitions held in cooperation with news companies, and public entry exhibitions held by art groups and societies.
1995
March
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo opens.
1996
April
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum management is transferred to the Tokyo Education and Culture Foundation (later renamed Tokyo Lifelong Learning and Culture Foundation).
1998
September
The Museum Shop opens.
2002
April
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum management is transferred from the Tokyo Lifelong Learning and Culture Foundation to the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture.
2006
April
Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture is entrusted with management for three years.
May
The Museum holds its 80th anniversary festivities.
2009
April
As the Museum’s designated administrator, the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture is entrusted with management for eight years.
2010
April
Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture becomes a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation.
A large-scale building renewal project is launched to rejuvenate the museum building and its equipment (architects: Mayekawa Associates, Architects & Engineers). The Museum closes for about two years.
May
A preparatory office for building renewal is established in former Sakamoto Elementary School (Shitaya, Taito-ku).
2011
July
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo returns 12 sculptures and 36 works of calligraphy.
November
A museum logo and symbol is enacted (design: TOKUJIN YOSHIOKA INC).
2012
March
The Museum is designated as a museum facility under the Museum Act.
April
The Museum holds its grand reopening (excluding the Special Exhibition Wing). The new building features universal design, improved gallery environments, and expanded restaurant and museum shop facilities. Under its new administrative policy, the Museum will hold varied thematic exhibitions and art communications projects.
June
The exhibition “Masterpieces from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis” is held to mark the Museum’s reopening (a complete opening, including the Thematic Exhibitions Wing).
2013
October
“TOKYO CRAFTS & DESIGN 2012,” an event marking the Museum’s reopening, wins the 2013 Good Design award.

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1. Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum Opens—Japan’s First Public Museum of Art

1. Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum Opens—Japan’s First Public Museum of Art


◎ A Groundswell of Opinion
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum began as “Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum.” Its year of founding, 1926, marked a transition from Taisho (1912-26) to a new era in Japan’s history, Showa (1926-89). Already, major art exhibitions were held annually in Ueno Park. These included the September Inten (Japan Art Institute Exhibition) and Nikaten (Nika Association), and the October Bunten (Ministry of Education Exhibition). Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum eventually became the central venue for these important annual exhibitions. The many art exhibitions held in autumn gave rise to the popular notion in Japan of “autumn, season of the arts.”
There were no Public Museum of Art in Japan until Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum opened. “In Europe, the art museum is a visible symbol of a city’s cultural identity,” people said, and there was a groundswell of opinion: “Japan needs an art museum or it will fall behind the West.”
◎ A Grand Stage for Artists
A place where people can enjoy art whenever they like . . . This long-cherished dream was realized through the volunteer spirit of a single entrepreneur—the Kitakyushu coal industrialist SATO Keitaro, who donated one million yen (about 3.2 billion yen today) to Tokyo Prefecture to cover the construction costs. Sato, although hardly major as a coal merchant, spent half of his total estate to help society, inspired by American entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie.
On May 1, 1926, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum opened its doors. It promptly became a venue where all artists could show their work, whether belonging to a government-sponsored exhibition or an independent art group. Having one’s art displayed here meant recognition as an artist. People who knew the (original) Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum building recall how stately it appeared with its grand ascending staircase and row of columns before its entrance. Because of its classical appearance, like a European temple, the museum was nicknamed the “temple of art.”
東京府美術館
Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum (Completed: 1926 / Design: OKADA Shinichiro)
◎ Which to Build, an Art Museum or Gallery?
When Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum was still under planning, the painter Hakutei Ishii looked to the historic Grand Palais in Paris, seeking a model for its design. The Grand Palais was one large gallery. SATO Keitaro, who donated the funds for the building’s construction, nevertheless wanted an art museum: a facility able to preserve works of antiquity, systematically acquire works for its collection, and display such works in a permanent exhibition. Art world people also desired to see such a museum realized, but the prefecture of Tokyo placed priority on an exhibit function and chose to build a gallery.
Soon after its launch as a gallery, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum began to hold exhibitions of its own, so that its collection of artworks grew and, in time, a decision was made to become an art museum.
SATO Keitaro
Column
SATO Keitaro
1868-1940
An industrialist born in Wakamatsu, Fukuoka Prefecture (today’s Wakamatsu Ward, Kitakyushu), SATO Keitaro was considered the “King of Coal.” Today, Sato is known for funding scholarships and hospitals, and employing his own funds to promote research for education and the betterment of living. He donated one million yen to the founding of Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum. To commemorate his outstanding social contributions, the museum has since its opening displayed a bust of SATO Keitaro by sculptor Fumio Asakura. On the occasion of its 2012 Grand Reopening, the museum has established the “Sato Keitaro Memorial Lounge” to transmit Sato’s achievements to future generations.

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2. The Original Art Museum—A Mirror of Its Time

2. The Original Art Museum—A Mirror of Its Time


◎ Uniting Bitter Enemies
Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum served as a venue for government-sponsored exhibitions, shows by independent art groups, and exhibitions held by newspaper companies. The museum’s activities, as such, mirrored the issues and events of the art world and society at large. A list of the museum’s exhibitions reads like an outline of Japan’s modern art history.
When the Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum’s opened in 1926, the government-sponsored exhibitions were in fierce competition with those of independent art groups. In these conditions, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum held its opening event, the “Prince Shotoku Hosan Exhibition” featuring over a thousand works submitted by both government-sponsored and independent art groups, and critics applauded: “The art world is always a scene of rivalry, but here, bitter enemies were brought together with better results than expected.”
Around this time, European avant-garde art reached Japan’s shores, and the newest works of Seiji Togo and fauvist admirer Yuzo Saeki were displayed at the museum.
Exhibit view, Sculpture Hall, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum
Exhibit view, Sculpture Hall, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum
◎ Presenting International Art and Japan’s Traditional Culture
Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum also took a role of presenting world-renowned artworks and works of contemporary art. The 1928 “Ohara Magosaburo Collection” exhibition displayed European, Egyptian, and Persian art from a collection that would eventually form the basis of Ohara Museum of Art in Kurashiki. The 1932 “Bari Tokyo Exhibition” offered 116 works by such avant-garde artists as Picasso, Ernst, and Tanguy.
The museum also became a venue for exhibits of Japan’s traditional culture. Calligraphy exhibitions have been featured regularly at the museum since its opening year, largely due to the efforts of calligrapher Shunkai Bundo. These exhibitions gave other art museums in Japan a precedent for holding calligraphy exhibitions. The “KOKUFU BONSAI EXHIBITION” has also been held annually since 1934. It was sculptor Fumio Asakura who pointed out the artistic qualities of bonsai trees and urged the holding of bonsai shows at the museum.
◎ Influence of War, Rebuilding the Art Groups, and Sixties Contemporary Art
In the late 1930s, as Japan advanced into China, painters such as Ryuzaburo Umehara were dispatched to regions of war, and their depictions of foreign lands were displayed at the museum. During wartime, the Artists Association of the Imperial Japanese Army was formed, with Léonard Foujita and other prominent artists taking part. Exhibitions of their artworks documenting the war were held. After World War II, these paintings were gathered by the GHQ and temporarily stored at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.*
After the war’s end, the Ministry of Education worked to restart its government-sponsored exhibition, and from 1946, the Nitten (Japan Art Academy Exhibition) came to be held. The nation’s art groups were also rebuilt in succession. Many artists, however, chose to work independently of the art groups, one of them being Taro Okamoto.
The 1960s saw new art movements that rebelled against the established art system. At “Yomiuri Independent” exhibitions, Genpei Akasegawa and other “Anti-Art” artists used their works to radically transform the museum’s spaces. In 1970, the museum hosted the 10th International Art Exhibition, “Between Man and Matter,” an event that became legendary for introducing new art in Japan. As a “temple of art,” Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum was the scene of explosive energy, generated by artists intent on destroying art conventions.

*In October 1943, Tokyo Metropolis was formed by the merger of Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo, and Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum changed its name to Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

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3. A Museum Blending with Trees—the New Museum Building

3. A Museum Blending with Trees—the New Museum Building


◎ From a Temple Rising Skyward to a Building Submerged in the Ground
“We should not feel entirely satisfied with this temple of art. First, it is ‘dark.’ Then, it is ‘dirty’ and also ‘noisy’ (with echoing footsteps). In summer it is hot, moreover, and in winter, cold, and it is poorly ventilated.” Thus spoke art critic Michitaro Takeda. By the late 1960s, over 100 art groups were exhibiting at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, which received over a million visitors annually. The existing building was cramped for space and its viewing environment was poor. An investigation of the building’s deterioration determined that it was seismically unsafe and concluded that it had to be dismantled.
In 1968, Metropolitan Tokyo launched a preparatory committee for constructing a new art museum building, specifying the following three functions.
1) A “permanent and thematic exhibition function” enabling the museum to actively plan and hold thematic exhibitions, as well as to acquire superior works of contemporary art and expand its permanent exhibition.
2) An “exhibit function for art groups” having sufficient scale and equipment to meet art group requirements and enable group artists to give maximum play to their creativity.
3) A “cultural activities function” promoting the cultural activities of citizens and providing spaces for art research, art production, and educational outreach.
Architect MAYEKAWA Kunio was entrusted with the new building’s design. He had previously assisted with the design of Le Corbusier’s National Museum of Western Art, also in Ueno Park, and had designed Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. Because the park was a scenic zone, buildings were restricted to 15m height. As a result, 60% of the new building’s area total floor area had to be placed underground. Establishing an open area (esplanade) in the center, Maekawa arranged three separate blocks around it: a thematic/permanent exhibition block, public entry exhibition block, and cultural activities block.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (Completed: 1975 / Design: MAYEKAWA Kunio)
◎ A Public Art Museum Prototype
The new art museum building was constructed next to the original Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum building. Briefly, while being dismantled, the original building stood beside MAYEKAWA Kunio’s new building. It was, people recall, an impressive sight—the original building with its imposing stairway ascending step by step, and the new building with its stairs descending gently to the main entrance lobby placed below ground level. The two contrasting paths of approach seemed to symbolize the changing times and ways of thinking.
The activities of the new Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum were divided roughly in two categories: the museum’s self-produced activities and its facility rentals. Curators were employed in a specialist capacity, and in terms of self-produced activities, the museum held thematic exhibitions featuring renowned works of modern art from Japan and abroad. Although featuring no permanent exhibition, the museum made greater effort than ever before to acquiring works for its collection and holding collection exhibitions.
Art lectures and live demonstrations were also offered as art culture events integral to the museum’s exhibitions and artwork acquisitions. This endeavor is said to be the origin of the museum’s present workshop program. In 1976, Japan’s first public art library, staffed with professional librarians, opened in Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
As for facility rentals, the public entry exhibition galleries, studio, and auditorium are all available for leasing. The new Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum building has been a pioneer in establishing many of the functions found today in public art museums throughout Japan.
The just-opened new art museum building (original building in center background)
The just-opened new art museum building (original building in center background)

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4. Art Groups and “Ueno no Mori”

4. Art Groups and “Ueno no Mori”


◎ Public Entry Exhibitions—Where Artists Debut
These days, when cutting-edge contemporary art is shown at galleries, art fairs, and art festivals, the “public entry exhibition” is often criticized for its rigid categorization of artworks and adhesion to conventions. It is, perhaps, symbolic that newspaper art columns almost never take up public entry exhibitions anymore.
Still, without question, the artworks featured in public entry exhibitions are the art of contemporary Japan. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum presents exhibitions of world-renowned artworks four times per year to an average 1.0 million (annual) visitors. Its public entry exhibitions, meanwhile, receive about 1.4 million visitors, and the Nitten (Japan Art Academy Exhibition) and Nikaten (Nika Association Exhibition) were each receiving about 1.7 million visitors before their relocation to The National Art Center, Tokyo. Art groups continually produce new artists and artworks, and enjoy a large, enthusiastic following in Japan.
It is not only artists who debut at the museum. Numerous art viewers, too, had their first art museum experience at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Not a few saw world-renowned paintings here as a child with their parents. Then, many people have friends who have shown work in a public entry exhibition, and some may have even submitted their own calligraphy or painting in the children’s category, when young.
From January to March each year, art colleges and art-oriented high schools hold graduation work art exhibitions. Tokyo University of the Arts has taken Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum as its main exhibit venue ever since 1942, when it was called Tokyo Art School. Since 1978, an alliance of universities has held exhibitions of selected graduation works here (Musashino Art University, Tama Art University, Joshibi University of Art and Design, Nihon University College of Art, and Tokyo Zokei University. The exhibitions are currently held at The National Art Center, Tokyo.)
◎ The Meaning of “Ueno no Mori”
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has long served as a place for showing and enjoying contemporary art. Some of its functions were moved to Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) when MOT opened in 1995. These include the collection built by the museum over the years and collection-related thematic museums, its educational programs, and its public art library. Thereafter, the major-scale public entry exhibitions, such as Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition), Nikaten (Nika Association Exhibition) and Kokuten (kokuga Association Exhibition), were moved to The National Art Center, Tokyo (Roppongi, Minato-ku) when it opened in 2007. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has played a changing role through the eras, but one thing remains the same: its location in historic Ueno Park. Museums, halls, and university facilities have gathered in good number in Ueno Park over the decades, so it is a place offering contact with people and events related to art and culture.
Ueno Park (Taito-ku, Tokyo; May 2013 photograph)
Ueno Park (Taito-ku, Tokyo; May 2013 photograph)

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5. Encountering World Masterpieces—Joint Exhibitions with Mass Media Agencies

5. Encountering World Masterpieces—Joint Exhibitions with Mass Media Agencies


◎ Co-organized Exhibitions
The co-organized exhibition has long been a definitive program of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. The museum has hosted exhibitions jointly with newspaper companies and other mass media agencies since before the war. Subsequent to moving its collection to Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), the museum has made co-organized exhibitions, varying widely in theme and content, a main pillar of its services along with public entry exhibitions.
Past offerings have included solo exhibitions of work by Western artists, such as the “Picasso Exhibition” (1977), “Henry Moore Exhibition” (1986), and “Borofsky Exhibition” (1987). The museum has also held highly popular exhibitions of the superlative collections of famed art museums, such as “La modernité - Collections du musée d 'Orsay” (1996), “Art and Afterlife in Ancient Egypt: From the British Museum” (Nov. 1999), and “Flemish and Dutch Paintings from the Collection of the KUNSTHISTORISHES MUSEUM WEIN” (2004).
◎ A Place to See World Masterpieces
Seeing famed masterpieces of art at close range without going overseas—such is still an elusive dream, even in today’s era of advanced media technologies.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, by offering “encounters with art masterpieces from Japan and around the world,” provides unforgettable art experiences and broadly informs society about art. The co-organized exhibition, in its role of bringing high-quality art to people, will continue to evolve and fascinate audiences, hereafter.
In April 2012, the museum held its Grand Reopening after two years of renovation work (May 2012 photograph)
In April 2012, the museum held its Grand Reopening after two years of renovation work (May 2012 photograph)

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The Founding Father of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Keitaro Sato

Preface

Preface


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, which opened in 1926, was Japan’s first public art museum. It was founded with a donation from a single individual: the businessman, Keitaro Sato.
On the occasion of the museum’s Grand Reopening, we wish to broadly inform the public about Keitaro Sato, its founding father. We have accordingly named the museum’s newly created lounge the Sato Keitaro Memorial Art Lounge and placed a bust of Keitaro Sato in the lounge along with materials explaining the museum’s history.
We have furthermore published this booklet summarizing Keitaro Sato’s life and achievements so that people of all ages will read about him and grasp his importance to the museum. Keitaro Sato—a man who worked for the betterment of people and society and founded an art museum. We will be pleased if this booklet contributes to an understanding of his life and the history of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
Professor Yasuyoshi Saito of the University of Tsukuba has provided the texts for this booklet. During his employment at this museum, Prof. Saito learned of Keitaro Sato and began researching his life.

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

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Introduction

Introduction


Who is Keitaro Sato? He is the founding father of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Back when Japan had no art museums, a great many painters, sculptors, and art lovers began to think: “Japan needs an art museum it can proudly present to the world.” Artists, after laboring to create a painting or sculpture, had no grand stage on which to exhibit it. Japan, having emerged from feudal isolation to become a modern nation, had no venue for displaying its vigorous new arts.
In this situation, a coal merchant from Kyushu appeared who donated one million yen to Tokyo Prefecture (present-day Tokyo Metropolis), saying “Use this money to build an art museum.” That coal merchant was Keitaro Sato, whom I will presently introduce to you. Why would a coal man from Wakamatsu, Kyushu (present-day Kitakyushu City) wish to see an art museum opened in Tokyo?
Let us retrace Keitaro Sato’s life and ponder this question.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum  Original building, exterior view

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1. From Fukuoka to Tokyo

1. From Fukuoka to Tokyo


Keitaro Sato was born on October 9, 1868 in Onga, Chikuzen (present-day Kitakyushu, Fukuoka), the oldest son of father Kosaku and mother Nao. Among his family’s ancestors, it is said, was Sato Tsugunobu, one of the ancient warrior Minamoto Yoshitsune’s four body guards. A more recent ancestor, the Edo era merchant Sato Nobuhide, had four generations earlier saved many starving farm families after a bad harvest, believing that “One should do good for others as well as one’s own family and forgo extravagance.”
Although his family was poor, Keitaro desired earnestly to study, and a relative was willing to pay for his schooling. He subsequently entered Fukuoka Prefectural Shuyukan English Vocational School. At this school, all classes were taught in English, even mathematics and history. Having had no exposure to English, he studied furiously and obtained a working use of English. Then, filled with great ambitions, he came to Tokyo. Entering Meiji Law School (present-day Meiji University), he studied law and graduated. He was prone to illness, however, and since no job opportunities arose for him in Tokyo, he had no choice but to return to Fukuoka.
Keitaro Sato when enrolled at Fukuoka Prefectural Shuyukan English Vocational School,The house where Keitaro Sato spent his childhood,Keitaro Sato when enrolled at Meiji Law School (extreme left, back row)

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2. Returning Home—The God of Coal

2. Returning Home—The God of Coal


Dispirited, Keitaro returned home. On his arrival in Fukuoka, however, he received a warm welcome. People around him came forward with advice and encouragement, and he took employment in Yamamoto Shutaro Company, a coal business located on Wakamatsu Harbor, and married Toshiko, the younger sister of Yamamoto Shutaro’s wife. On the evening of his wedding, he vowed to Toshiko, “I will not spoil myself. If you will but believe in me, I will make a success of myself without fail.” Believing that one should “work not to make a salary but rather to build trust, an abstract asset,” he learned bookkeeping and the basics of doing business from his wife.
Keitaro also spent time underground in the coal mines, learning everything he could about coal. He soon was able to simply look at a glistening, black coal nugget and correctly identify the mine in Chikuho it came from. At Moji Harbor, he took the lead in supervising the loading of coal on foreign passenger ships, and on one occasion he fell into the sea, injuring himself badly. Reading the winds and tides of the Kanmon Straits, he oversaw the positioning of the coal cargo (sailing) vessels, throwing himself in his labor as if it were a battle of the Genji and Heike. He came to be called the “God of Coal,” and appeared under his actual name as a figure in the Ashihei Hino novel, Hana to ryu (“Flower and Dragon”).
Keitaro Sato’s wife, Toshiko,Coal cargo vessel in Wakamatsu Harbor

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3. The Art Museum’s Birth—His Encounter with the Newspaper “Jiji Shinpo”

3. The Art Museum’s Birth—His Encounter with the Newspaper “Jiji Shinpo”


So trusted was Keitaro Sato as a business partner, “Wakamatsu’s Sato” became a byword for reliability, and he achieved success in the operation of his coal business. His weak stomach nevertheless remained the one vulnerable point in his life. His doctor, Yuzaburo Noguchi, finally told him to stop working or he may not live long, and Keitaro decided to make voluntary social service, not business management, his mission.
At this time, while staying at Tokyo’s Kobiki-cho Suimei-kan hotel in 1921, he came across an editorial in the Jiji Shinpo newspaper. Under the headline, “Permanently Established Art Museum,” the editorial lamented how “Large cities in Western countries always have a permanently established museum for displaying art representing that nation’s culture, but Japan only has temporary art museums established for each exposition.” The editorial went on: “We Japanese have a rich command of the arts, and yet, if we are not careful, we will be left behind by the West. Let us recruit funds from good-hearted people and build an art museum.” At the time, the Tate Gallery in London had already been built using funds donated by the English sugar magnate, Henry Tate.
Having read this editorial, Keitaro Sato went to Tokyo Prefectural Hall to see Hiroshi Abe, the Tokyo prefectural mayor (present-day Tokyo governor) and offered to donate one million yen (about 3.3 billion yen today) for the construction of an art museum.
The editorial “Permanently Established Art Museum” in the Jiji Shinpo newspaper (partial),Tate Gallery (London)

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4. Opening Exhibition and Naohiko Masaki

4. Opening Exhibition and Naohiko Masaki


Art world people in Japan had dreamed of having an art museum since the Meiji era (1868-1912). This desire they had communicated to the Tokyo Prefectural and national governments, but nothing had come of their appeals.
It was on May 1, 1926 that Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum—built according to a design by Shinichiro Okada built using funds donated by Keitaro Sato—opened amid the fresh verdure of Ueno Park. The Great Kanto Earthquake had destroyed the city three years before. The new art museum was therefore symbolic of Tokyo’s reconstruction. With time, it became known and loved by people throughout Japan as “the Ueno art museum.”
With this museum as a stage, a new art culture would blossom in Japan. The seed planted by Keitaro Sato, the founding father of Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum, became a great tree, then a forest, and ultimately the art world of Japan we know today.
“The first art exhibition in Japan’s first art museum” was the “Prince Shotoku Holy Exhibition” held under Tokyo Prefecture’s patronage. Japan’s leading Nihonga (Japanese-style) painters, Western-style painters, sculptors, and craftspeople formed a broad alliance for the exhibition, and some one thousand new artworks were displayed. The president of Tokyo Fine Arts School, Naohiko Masaki, took charge of exhibition planning. Masaki, who sympathized deeply with the spirit of Prince Shotoku, a regent who expounded the idea of “Wa” (concord or harmony), became the foster father of Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum.
Tokyo Prefectual Art Museum: Crafts Garllery Takeshi Fujishima, Hokei (Western-style painting, submitted in the “Prince Shotoku Holy Exhibition”)
 Naohiko Masaki,Tokyo Fine Arts School’s fifth president

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5. A “Temple of Art”

5. A “Temple of Art”


During twenty years, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum hosted over 700 art exhibitions attended by some 12 million people. In 1943, it was renamed Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Although primarily a venue for shows of new works by art group exhibitions (such as the Teiten [Japan Art Academy Exhibition], Inten [Japan Art Institute Exhibition] and Nikaten [Second Society Exhibition]), the museum of its own accord organized an “Ohara Magosaburo Collection” exhibition displaying artworks from Egypt, Spain, France and other nations. Newspaper companies also held thematic art exhibitions. They included “Masterpieces of Meiji-Taisho,” which featured modern artworks such as Wada Sanzo’s Nanpu (“South Wind”), Yokoyama Taikan’s Seisei Ruten (“Eternal Cycle of Rebirth”) and Ogiwara Morie’s Onna (“Woman”); and “Treasures of Japan,” which publically displayed for the first time ancient masterworks seldom shown, such as Choju-giga (“Animal Caricatures”), Tawaraya Sotatsu’s Fujin Raijin Zu (“Wind God and Thunder God”) and Ogata Korin’s Kohakubai Zu (“Red and White Plum Blossoms”).
Through its own efforts, the NICHIFUTSU-GEIJUTSU-SHA [Japan-France Art Firm] (representatives: H. d’Oelsnitz, Hoshin Kuroda) had Rodin’s The Thinker (an original reproduction currently in Kyoto National Museum) and Emmanuel Frémiet’s equestrian statue Jeanne d’Arc shipped from Paris and displayed at Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum. Joseph Antoine Bernard’s Dance, a work now displayed in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum lobby, was a gift of the Japan-France Art Society.
At the Japan-Germany-Italy Friendship Association exhibition, works by children from throughout the nation were displayed, and a total 770,000 people attended during the exhibition’s nine days.
“Ohara Magosaburo Collection” exhibition venue scene, 1928 Rodin, The Thinker 6th French Contemporary Art Exhibition, 1927 Joseph Antoine Bernard, Dance

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6. A Life of Voluntary Social Service

6. A Life of Voluntary Social Service


Keitaro Sato, who had long suffered gastric ailments, at the age of 57 began to chew his food thoroughly. This he did at the recommendation of Dr. Kenzo Futaki of Tokyo Imperial University (present-day Tokyo University). He soon recovered his health, and he thereafter devoted himself to promoting the public health. The fact that his beloved Japan was trying to overcome a crisis using force saddened him, and he passionately sought to persuade army acquaintances that “Eating quickly produces warlike and self-destructive people. Let’s chew our food well.”
Having opened his eyes to the importance of healthy eating, Keitaro collected funds to build the Fukuoka Agricultural School where farm youth could study. In 1937, he built the Sato Shinko Seikatsu-kan (“Sato Lifestyle Research Building,” designed by William Vories; now the Hilltop Hotel in Kanda Surugadai near Sato’s alma mater, Meiji University), and established the Lifestyle Training Center for educating young women.
Keitaro, after devoting his energies to society, died in Beppu on January 13, 1940. At his bequest, Beppu Municipal Art Museum and Beppu Municipal Gymnasium were built using his donations. In 1953, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum gave the name Sato Memorial Hall to a newly created gallery so as to transmit its benefactor’s name to later generations.
Sato Shinko Seikatsu-kanSato Shinko Seikatsu-kan Exercises at Sato Shinko Seikatsu-kan Sato Memorial Hall (post-war)

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Keitaro Sato’s motto was Koshi-ichinyo (Harmony between the individual and society). His saw his own wealth as a loan from society—a loan he must, naturally return, and return it he did, in full. This belief was at the heart of Keitaro Sato’s actions as a man who respected the American steel magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. I will close with Keitaro Sato’s own words.

*****

Since young, I have always tackled the situation directly before me with all my heart and strength. Concerning the results, it has been my policy not to worry excessively, complain, or entertain regrets. In today’s language, I would perhaps be called someone who believes in hard work. In reality, however, regardless of what you believe, you can only “give your best in whatever you do,” in the path you have taken, by the methods you have chosen.
This one day is all we have. Yesterday is past. Tomorrow is unknowable.

—From Lifestyle, 1939 October edition
Koshi-ichinyo brushed by Keitaro Sato
Keitaro Sato Chronology
1868
Born on October 9, the oldest son of father Kosaku and mother Nao, in Jinnohara Village, Onga-gun, Chikuzen (later called Orio-machi; present-day Jinnoharu, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka).
1886 age 18
Entered Fukuoka Prefectural Shuyukan English Vocational School (present-day Shuyukan Senior High School).
1887 age 19
Left school and went to Tokyo. Entered Meiji Law School (present-day Meiji University).
1890 age 22
Graduated from Meiji Law School but illness forced him to return to Fukuoka.
1892 age 24
Became a clerk at Yamamoto Shutaro Company, a coal business located on Wakamatsu Harbor, and married Toshiko, the younger sister of Yamamoto Shutaro’s wife. Took the name Yamamoto. (Later re-took the name Sato.)
1908 age 40
Demand for coal soared after the Russo-Japanese war and Sato embarked earnestly into coal sales. In 1910 after buying out Takae Coal Company he had 1,000 employees. When the economy was down and coal miner wages low, he kept digging new mines. When the economy improved, he excavated large quantities of coal, and in such ways, developed his business.
1918 age 50
Named Wakamatsu City Council Chairman.
1920 age 52
Decided to step back from the business world.
Putting his books in order, he began devoting his wealth to helping society.
1921 age 53
While staying at Tokyo’s Kobiki-cho Suimei-kan hotel in 1921, he came across an editorial in the Jiji Shinpo newspaper. He then visited Mayor Hiroshi Abe at Tokyo Prefectural Hall and offered to donate one million yen for the construction of an art museum.
1926 age 58
On May 1, Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum opened in Ueno Park.
Sato was decorated with the Fifth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure.
At the completion ceremony, he received varying commemorative items, including picture albums painted by artists of the Teitoku Bijutsuin (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts), Nihon Bijutsuin (the Japan Art Institute), Shunyo-kai (the Shunyo-kai Art Society), and NIKA ASSOCIATION and a bust created by sculptor Fumio Asakura.
The first “Prince Shotoku Holy Exhibition” was held as the museum’s opening exhibition.
1931 age 63
Took part in a round-the-world observation group trip organized by the Japan External Trade Organization, visiting America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia
1937 age 69
The “Sato Lifestyle Research Building” (now the Hilltop Hotel) was completed in Kanda Surugadai. He devoted himself to promoting healthy lifestyles and educating farm youth and young women.
1940 age 71
Died of acute pneumonia in his home city, Beppu, on January 13.
References:
Sato, Keitaro, “Keitaro Sato Autobiography” in Seikatsu (Lifestyle), 1939 November edition—1940 April edition, Sato Lifestyle Research Building.
Mr. Keitaro Sato Biography Editing Group, Representative: Akira Yokota, Keitaro Sato, 1942, Dainihon Seikatsu Kyokai (texts by Yoshinori Kato)
Saito, Yasuyoshi, Biography of Keitaro Sato—The King of Coal who Built Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum, 2008, Sekifusha

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Author … Yasuyoshi Saito, University of Tsukuba art professor (Art Environment Support Research Center)
Publisher … Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum   Date … April 16, 2012