The History of
the Ohara Museum of Art

In 1930, to commemorate Kojima Torajiro, a Western-style painter who died the previous year, Kurashiki entrepreneur, Ohara Magosaburo, founded the Ohara Museum of Art. This private museum, featuring Western art, is the oldest in Japan.

Magosaburo, well-known as a collector of Japanese art, highly respected Torajiro’s talent and his humble attitude towords art, and sent Torajiro to Europe three times. Torajiro studied art in Europe and, at the same time, with Magosaburo’s superb European artwork, choosing pieces through the sense of beauty that he possessed as a Japanese artist.

Torajiro, who had a spirit typical of Meiji Era, felt there was a struggle between the highlights of Western art and his Japanese aesthetic sense, when he carefully chose artwork. He prudently chose masterpieces by El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Matisse and other artists and brought them to Kurashiki, which are now the main features of the Ohara Museum of Art. His collection of Chinese and Egyptian art reveals the conflict of beauty between Western and Oriental art that he faced, where he tried to seek the essence of art.

The Ohara Museum of Art plays an active role in Kurashiki, expanding the collection to include both modern and contemporary art from the West and Japan, as well as pieces by artists who served Mingei Movement (Japanese Folk Art Movement). Now the museum is well known to the world as a private museum with its own character, reflecting Japanese culture.

The Ohara Museum of Art, in addintion to opening the eyes of children and adults on site, soends time and energy on distance learning programs through the infomation communication technology(IT).As an art museum that will actively live through the 21st century, it also serves for broad activities cultivating the frontier of art. Art Lectures are held every summer, and Gallery Concerts, inviting world-class musecians, are part of its activities.

03
05
02
06
01


CHRONOLOGY

  • 1930

    The construction began on April 19 and completed on November 5. It was named the Ohara Museum of Art. It is the first western museum of art in Japan, that came into being in Kurashiki. Kiyomi Takeuchi became the first President and Director.

  • 1943

    The founder of the Ohara Museum of Art, Magosaburo Ohara died on January 18, at the age of 62.

  • 1949

    The Crown Prince visited the museum on April 4

  • 1950

    The ceremonies were held on November 5 and 6 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its foundation.

  • 1951

    The exhibition of Henri Matisse was held in June.
    The exhibition of Pablo Picasso was held in October.

  • 1952

    The exhibition of Georges Braque was held in November.

  • 1953

    The exhibition of Georges Rouault was held in December.

  • 1955

    The events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation were held on November 6 through 8.

  • 1956

    The Empress visited the museum on April 10.

  • 1960

    The event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 7.

  • 1961

    Upon the completion of the construction of the Annex in the Shinkeien Garden, the completion ceremony was held on May 30.
    On July 16, the Annex was opened to the public as the institution to host the permanent exhibitions of the western style paintings painted by contemporary Japanese painters and ancient orient art.
    The opening ceremony of the Craft Art Gallery was held on November 3.

  • 1963

    Keisuke Serizawa Room and Shiko Munakata Room were completed on November 29.

  • 1964

    On April 1, Shin’ichiro Fujita became the second Director.
    On August 25, Soichiro Ohara became the second President.

  • 1965

    The permanent modern western exhibition was set up, which makes the institution the first modern art museum in Japan.
    The event to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 5.

  • 1970

    The Asiatic Art Gallery was completed on November 9.
    The event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 9.

  • 1972

    Kojima Torajiro Memorial Hall was opened on November 7.

  • 1973

    The number of visitors within one year exceeded one million.

  • 1980

    The event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 10.

  • 1982

    The first Gallery Concert was held on November 24.

  • 1991

    Ken-ichiro Ohara became the fourth President on May 27.
    The construction work for expansion and refurbishment finished in September.

  • 1998

    The accumulated total number of the visitors exceeded 28 million on March 8.
    Tadao Ogura became the third Director on April 1.
    Jo and Tetsuko Sengoku Memorial Fund was established on June 21.

  • 2000

    The Torajiro Kojima exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of his death was held in November.
    The event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 6.

  • 2002

    Shuji Takashina became the fourth Director on April 1.
    The accumulated total number of the visitors exceeded 28 million on April.

  • 2005

    ARKO(Artist in Residence Kurashiki, Ohara) project start.
    The 100th Gallery Concert was held on December 3.

  • 2007

    AM Kurashiki(Artist Meets Kurashiki) project start.

  • 2010

    The Ohara Best exhibition and the event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the foundation was held on November 5.

  • 2016

    Akane Ohara became the fifth President on July 1.