Ohara Museum of Art

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Japan's temple to Western art

A striking Greek Revival temple in the heart of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, Ohara Museum of Art is Japan’s oldest private art museum, and a temple to the heavy hitters of Western art. Local entrepreneur Magosaburo Ohara founded the museum in 1930, in honor of Kojima Torajiro, a Western-style painter. Ohara was a prominent art collector and patron, who sponsored Torajiro’s trips to Europe to buy pieces on his behalf. Torajiro chose wisely, picking pieces by El Greco, Monet, Matisse, Degas and Pissarro, to bring back to Kurashiki. The main gallery has also acquired works by Pollock, De Kooning, Maillol, Giacometti, Calder and many other major significant artists. Part of the ongoing mission of the museum is to explore tensions between Western and Oriental art.

The gallery is deceptively large. Approach from the front to find two additional galleries in the grounds; one, a remodeled stone granary, is dedicated to Asian art and craft. The annex, flanked by sculptures by Rodin and Moore, houses a comprehensive collection of modern Japanese painters. The museum has a lively schedule of events throughout the year, including music concerts and a summer lecture series.

1-1-15 Chuo-Kurashiki-shi, Okayama-ken