This pint-sized museum packs a punch with its creative themes and meticulously selected pieces. With direct access via both train and subway, the Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art is a handy addition to your rainy-day activity list as well as a legitimate presence in the fine-arts world of Tokyo.
Bonus: Drop into the free showroom downstairs to get a taste of Japanese interior design trends.
How it all began
You may be wondering why a company like Panasonic has an art gallery in the first place. According to the curator, the collection first began back in 1997 when Panasonic had the chance to acquire about two dozen small landscape paintings by French artist Georges Rouault (1871–1958). Enthralled by the works, they proceeded to build a collection of paintings and prints from throughout the artist’s career. The company hoped the collection would serve to both inspire employees and preserve Rouault’s significant contribution to the art world.
In 2003, Panasonic decided to open the collection to the public so it could be enjoyed by all. The museum now creates new exhibits four times a year which delve into different themes or artists and showcase complementing artworks by Rouault.
What it’s like inside
The gallery is situated on the 4th floor of the Panasonic Tokyo Shiodome Building, near Shiodome and Shinbashi train stations. Lockers are provided just outside the exhibit space for stashing away heavy backpacks, and if your suitcases are too big, the staff are happy to hold them for you.
Measuring just 333 sq m in size, the exhibition space is considerably more intimate than other museums in Tokyo. However, what the gallery lacks in square footage it makes up for in thoughtfulness and creativity. Dynamic, colored moving walls allow for a variety of layouts, making each new exhibition feel distinctly different to the last; while the museum’s curators endeavor to celebrate art in all its mediums, from paintings to perfume bottles.
Although it’s possible to speed through the halls in a matter of minutes, we recommend taking your time. The exhibits are designed to be savored piece by piece, with each article carefully selected for its relevance to the theme. So slow down, take a breath, and let the artworks tell their story.
All of the exhibitions at the Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art are structured around three core subjects:
- the works of Georges Rouault,
- craft and design, and
- architecture and living spaces.
No matter which exhibit you go to see, there’s guaranteed to be a piece of art that catches your eye.
We had the chance to view the DUFY exhibit which saw various works by French painter Raoul Dufy (1877–1953) flown in from Paris. Despite having little exposure to fine art since highschool, this writer was able to appreciate the journey of the artist through the mix of paintings, sketches, and dresses on display. If your art history is also a little rusty—fear not. English descriptions are provided next to each artwork and free wifi is available for googling any pressing questions.
The exhibition also included a charming set for taking a commemorative photo to remember your visit.
Of course, an art gallery by Panasonic wouldn’t be complete without some tech! This is integrated subtly via meticulously planned LED lighting design and fixtures, and strategically placed Space Player projectors used to enhance the staging of the displays.
What’s on in 2019/2020
11 January 2020 (Saturday) ➔ 22 March 2020 (Sunday)
Dreams of Life Connected by Modern Design
Examine the work of those who lived through the horrors of World War II and dreamed of building a better world through modern design.
11 April 2020 (Saturday) ➔ 23 June 2020 (Tuesday)
Georges Rouault and Japan: A Shared Spirit and Sense of Art
Explore how Georges Rouault came to be so well loved in Japan and see how his influence manifests in modern Japanese art.
18 July 2020 (Saturday) ➔ 22 September 2020 (Tuesday)
Contemporary Japanese Crafts: Reinterpretation, Exquisite Craftsmanship, and Aesthetic Exploration
Study the three major trends in contemporary Japanese craft arts and view world-famous Japanese craft pieces including heel-less shoes by Noritaka Tatehana (popularized by Lady Gaga) and three-dimensional fish paintings by Riusuke Fukahori.
10 October 2020 (Saturday) ➔ 15 December 2020 (Tuesday)
Trace the history of the Bunriha, the first contemporary architectural movement in Japan.
9 January 2021 (Saturday) ➔ 21 March 2021 (Sunday)
Aromatic Vessels: Treasures from the Takasago Collection
A comprehensive look at the world of aromas, from ancient vases for storing aromatic oils to European perfume bottles, and classic Japanese incense tools.
What else to do at the museum
After you’ve finished perusing the exhibit, stop by the museum gift shop for a selection of art-themed books, postcards, and other goods. They accept cash, credit and IC travel card payments.
If you enjoy interior design and are interested in seeing the differences (and similarities) between Japanese houses and your own, head down to the free Panasonic Living Showroom (1F–B2F) and Tokyo Renovation Museum (1F). The model living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms show off the latest in Japanese lifestyle trends and technology—including automatic filling bathtubs and state-of-the-art toilet seats. Guidance is available in Japanese only.
Finally, upon exiting the first-floor reception area, walk around to the west-facing side of the building to find the #LoveWall. This massive artwork was designed by internationally renowned muralist James Goldcrown. It’s the perfect backdrop for a group photo or Insta pic.
How to get to the Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art
The museum can be accessed via JR, subway, or the Yurikamome Line, and signage is abundant. If you’re visiting on a rainy (or snowy or humid) day, enter via Shiodome Sio-Site to avoid the elements.
Daily from 10 am to 6 pm (last entry at 5:30 pm). Closed on Wednesdays.
Entry is usually around ¥1,000 for adults. Ticket prices may change depending on the exhibition, so check the website before you go.