Top Museums to Visit on Naoshima
A guide to the main museums on Naoshima Art Island.
Perfect for a day trip, Naoshima and Teshima islands are famous for being home to numerous museums that showcase the art of modern artists from around the world. You may have seen pictures of the famous pumpkin statue on Naoshima Island, but there’s much more to see.
The Chichu Museum, granting visitors a splendid panoramic view of the island, was designed by Ando Tadao, who cleverly structured the building so that natural light would illuminate all the artworks on display. This museum houses a small collection of art, including murals of Monet’s Water Lilies and the Time/Timeless/No Time series by Walter De Maria. This museum is also located conveniently close to the Lee Ufan Museum and the Benesse House by shuttle bus.
There are undoubtedly few artworks that are similar to the Art House Project, which is a collection of buildings scattered around Honmura that have been converted into dedicated art spaces. Many of these buildings have become artworks themselves. This project is certainly a breather from all the modern artworks you’ll be perusing while on the island, as the houses are modeled after traditional Japanese architecture.
The Benesse Art Museum is unique in that it houses both an art museum and a hotel on its premises. In addition, you can find nearly 20 artworks scattered around their lawns – just ask for a map. It’s here that you’ll spot the famous pumpkin statue designed by Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese pop-art artist cited as one of Andy Warhol’s influences.
The Lee Ufan Museum celebrates the work of the eponymous Korean artist. Similar to the other buildings on the island, the museum was designed so that there would be lots of open space enabling it to integrate with the surrounding environment. His artworks are primarily created from slabs of concrete, stone, and iron.
Rest your weary feet at the I Love Yu museum, a hot spring masterpiece. Decked out in bright colors and eclectic artwork, the onsen is a feast for the eyes. Perhaps not the best place to relax, since you’ll be spending your time looking at the gorgeous artwork around the onsen.
Originally a pachinko parlor, Miyanoura Gallery 6 is similar to the Chichu Museum in that the building was designed to let in large amounts of natural light so that artificial lighting would not ruin the appearance of the artworks displayed. While the majority of the art museums on Naoshima are removed from residential areas, Miyanoura Gallery 6 is situated near residents’ homes, granting you a glimpse into everyday life on the island.
While looking like a traditional Japanese house from the outside, the Ando Museum is anything but in its interior. Despite there being traditional elements in its interior design, Ando also incorporated cement into much of its design. Finally, the 007 Museum, dedicated to the one and only 007 himself, was built to commemorate “The Man with the Red Tattoo”, a short story by Raymond Benson that takes place in Naoshima for a portion of the novel. Be sure to stop by if you’re a fan of James Bond, as there are loads of souvenirs from the only Japanese set of James Bond memorabilia.