Art & Design
National Art Center Tokyo 国立新美術館
A world-class exhibition space that's visually striking inside and out
The National Art Center Tokyo has established itself as one of the country's most important art spaces. One of five art institutions organized under the Japanese government's 2001 push to increase art outreach, research, and conservation, the gallery works under three major ideologies: offering a fresh perspective on artistic creativity, accumulating art materials from significant historical moments for public use, and providing outreach, education, and interactivity.
- Fine French dining with a view at Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musee
- The first floor's open-air exhibition spaces
- The extensive third-floor art library, free to use
How to Get There
The National Art Center Tokyo is a quick walk from Nogizaka or Roppongi subway stations.
Take the Chiyoda Line to Nogizaka Station and leave through exit 6 for direct access. Alternatively, take either the Hibiya or Oedo Line to Roppongi Station and walk about five minutes.
The space houses three cafes and a restaurant
The 14,000 square meters cover three floors and over a dozen gallery spaces
With no permanent exhibitions, The National Art Center Tokyo is considered an 'empty gallery'
The museum is closed on Tuesdays
Facing the future
Since opening in 2007, this stunning structure designed by Kisho Kurokawa has been considered one of Tokyo's most impressive and flexible art spaces. On first approaching, you'll find yourself looking up into glass and steel waves which form the expansive, light-filled atrium at the entrance.
Built on old University of Tokyo campus grounds, the museum is a prime example of the Metabolism movement that Kurokawa helped found and joins a number of other galleries and international structures designed by the leading architect. This kinetic concept of forward-looking change extends to the unique way the museum operates.
The "Empty Gallery" concept
Unlike most other national art museums and galleries, the National Art Center Tokyo is actually an "empty gallery," which means it doesn't have a permanent exhibition or curators. Rather than hosting one major permanent collection, the gallery focuses on being a venue for a number of rotating art exhibitions simultaneously as well as public events like artist talks and workshops.
Because there's nothing permanent, make sure to explore all three floors fully, as what's there now may not be on display the next time you visit. The gallery's wide open, ever-changing spaces have at times hosted works from avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, anime creator Makoto Shinkai, and architect Tadao Ando.
The Roppongi Art Triangle
The National Art Center Tokyo is part of Roppongi's "Art Triangle," a collection of three museum spaces in the district which can all be visited at discounted rates if you retain your ticket from one and show it when entering the next. This affordable scheme lends for a day of art and culture, perfect before a Roppongi night out.