The Gallery Of Horyuji Treasures

by | 08. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature

Photo: arcspace

The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures, one of the museum buildings in the Tokyo National Museum complex, is surrounded by nature and cultural assets.


Photo: arcspace

The Horyuji collection was donated to the Imperial Household by the temple in 1878, and the approximately 300 cultural properties became national property after WWII.

The old gallery building that once occupied the site served mainly to preserve the works in storage. The new gallery building, which opened in 1999, was required not only to function better as preserving the works but to permit the general public to view works on exhibit.

Out of a desire to respect both the sublime works to be displayed and the natural setting, I made it my goal in designing the new Gallery of Horyuji Treasures to create on the site an environment of a kind that has become all too rare in present-day Tokyo, that is, an environment characterized by tranquility, order and dignity.
/Yoshio Taniguchi

These two contradictory requirements, permanent preservation and public exhibition, were met by providing in the building two contrasting spaces; a dark central portion enclosed by a stone wall and a brightly lit outer portion wrapped in glass. The louver is composed of solid steel structural members and extruded aluminium mullions. The Gallery received an architectural award of merit for its cheery man-made pond coupled with its quiet atmosphere.


Photo: arcspace


Photo: arcspace


Photo: arcspace


Photo: arcspace


Photo: arcspace


Photo: arcspace

A thick wall of concrete and stone prevents any outdoor light from entering the galleries and storage spaces in which the works are permanently preserved. The entrance hall also serves as a buffer zone protecting the exhibition and storage spaces. Visitors can relax in restful spaces integrated with the outdoors.

The research room and curatorial rooms, which require a pleasant environment, are situated on the top floor.  Here, natural light enters through a courtyard open to the sky, and a large window affords a panoramic view of the woods of Ueno.

Taniguchi’s extremely refined and elegant building is the product of a global stream of development that has its roots in the work of Le Corbusier and the pure, cubic forms of “International Style” Modernism. The building’s most uniquely Japanese quality is the astonishing accuracy and attention to detail that has been achieved in its construction. Note, for example, how the joints in the lobby wall panels align perfectly with joints in the flooring.
/Andrew Barrie


CITY Tokyo
ARCHITECT Taniguchi And Associates