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Making it happen through creative thinking

Mori Art Museum director Fumio Nanjo believes that art and creative thinking hold the key to solving the problems of the future. But how to create a city that is open and accepting of art?

One of the answers, according to Nanjo, is to facilitate ways for art to be shown to the public. That means establishing museums that are accessible and in tune with the latest artistic developments.

“Establishing an art museum is complicated,” he said, “because it must be designed and configured so that it actually suits the local society.”

Asked whether Tokyo requires any more museums, he shared his idea for a “Cool Japan” museum.

“This could be a place that is not limited to visual art per se, but simply to whatever is the most exciting element of Japanese culture at a particular time,” he said. “The approach would be like a magazine, where once every six or 12 months the exhibit would change completely — maybe an anime show one time and an architecture show the next.”

Elsewhere, though, different approaches would be necessary. Nanjo has observed closely as cities and private collectors throughout Asia — in particular in China — have rushed to build museums over the last few years. Several hundred new museums are opening annually in China alone.

“You need to be careful that you are building the museum so that it is suited to the kind of art you will be able to show,” Nanjo said.

This is an area in which he thinks Japan, which has almost a century of museum-building experience, might be able to offer advice to its neighbors.

“Japan has a long history of establishing and managing museums to exacting international standards,” he said. “This could be an area in which Japan can help foster creativity throughout the region.”

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