Shimane Art Museum
A museum featuring 40 exhibits a year and spectacular sunset views of Lake Shinji.By Laura Payne
The Shimane Art Museum displays works by some of the most famous artists in the world, but it is not simply a building that houses art. Situated on the shore of Lake Shinji, it is one of the most popular places in Matsue to view the sunset. From September to March, the museum stays open for an extra 30 minutes after sundown.
Opened in 1999, the museum has since amassed a collection of 2,000 pieces of art by Hokusai, a renowned ukiyo-e (woodblock prints and paintings) Japanese artist during the Edo period.
International and local artists
Paintings and woodblock prints by Hokusai, the world-famous mind behind The Great Wave off Kanagawa, are among the museum’s most prized items.
Shimane local and art researcher Nagata Seiji (1951-2018) donated his collection of Hokusai works in 2017, which increased the Shimane Art Museum’s collection of Hokusai to over 2,000 pieces. Key works from this collection are typically displayed in the museum’s permanent exhibits, but special exhibitions occasionally show off more significant portions of Nagata’s donation.
Other attractions in the permanent exhibits include a gallery dedicated to paintings on the theme of water–inspired by Matsue’s nickname, The City of Water. Here, paintings by westerners such as Claude Monet and Japanese artists such as Hishida Shunso are displayed side by side, illustrating how different painters can uniquely interpret a universal topic.
Throughout the year, the museum curates temporary special exhibits that can feature classic or modern works of art. Past special exhibition themes include the anime Evangelion, Japanese folk arts and an interactive digital display by the art collective TeamLab. Information on current and upcoming special exhibits can be found on the museum’s official website.
See the sunset
Lake Shinji’s sunset is one of the most beloved views in Matsue, and the museum provides multiple spaces for enjoying this sight. The museum lobby features floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the lake, and an outdoor deck on the museum’s second floor allows guests to see Lake Shinji from above.
Meanwhile, Kishi Park, situated between the museum and the lake, provides an outdoor viewing spot with sculptures, lakeside paths, and open grassy areas. This is also the location of the Shinjiko Sunset Cafe, a drink stand that is only open in the evenings when the sunset is visible. Customers can purchase coffee, juice, or special drinks such as Mango Tea Soda, which is made to emulate the colors of the setting sun.
Topics: art and design, Museums, shimane