The Fukuoka Art Museum reopened on Mar. 21 after extensive renovations lasting two-and-a-half years. Aiming to create a more open facility, a new entrance was built on the Ohori Park side of the museum and the cafe and restaurant were upgraded. In addition to building and facility renovations, more galleries that citizens can use were added along with a play area for kids.
The Fukuoka Art Museum, which first opened in November 1979, was designed by Kunio Maekawa, a highly skilled architect who worked on many public buildings and art museums in particular. With brick tiles that stand out in contrast to the greenery of the park, the museum’s exterior design is striking, but these tiles were not merely veneers pressed on the concrete walls with an adhesive; rather, Maekawa developed customized tiles embedded in concrete. This technique not only provides for aesthetically pleasing surfaces, but it is also more durable.
After graduating from the Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), Maekawa traveled to Paris to study modern architecture under the famed French architect Le Corbusier. Upon his return, he worked for Antonin Raymond’s architecture firm in Tokyo before striking out on his own. He remained a leading figure in the architecture world for many years and helped Japanese architecture catch up to the West. He left behind an extensive body of outstanding work and also trained the next generation of Japanese architects. He designed more than 200 buildings throughout Japan and remained active until he passed away in 1986 at the age of 81.
The new and improved Fukuoka Art Museum has kept Maekawa’s design elements, including the tiled walls, arched ceilings, and the esplanade (second-floor outdoor patio) intact along with the original light fixtures and furniture. On the other hand, it has been updated to accommodate universal design and take the environment into consideration with LED lighting and other measures.
Here’s hoping the museum will remain a favorite gathering spot for the residents of Fukuoka for many years to come, all while carrying on the legacy of Kunio Maekawa.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn244, Apr. 2019)