Tokyo’s art scene struggles to resume

by Yuhei Wada

It’s been two weeks since the Kanto-Tohoku earthquake and the nation is only just able to start assessing the long-term effects it will have on society. In Tokyo, which has been lucky enough to suffer little structural damage, museums and galleries, many of which closed immediately after the disaster, are now beginning to schedule reopening dates.

Some national museums have already reopened, but with limited hours. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo opened on March 23 with hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Likewise, the National Museum of Western Art and the National Art Center, Tokyo will reopen on March 26. The National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, however, has extended its closure until the end of March, while the Tokyo National Museum stated on its website that it is still “considering the current condition of the rolling blackouts and train schedule limitations,” and is now planning a reopening date to be announced later.

Some other major museums are also opening with limited hours, such as the Bridgestone Museum of Art. Many other exhibitions, however, such as Mori Art Museum’s upcoming “French Window,” which was set to open on March 18, are still postponed. Most museums are uploading new schedules on their websites, so it would be wise to regularly check individual shows for more information.

Events wise, GEISAI Art Festival has still not rescheduled and Art Fair Tokyo has been postponed to allow the International Forum to be used to house evacuees from the earthquake. Though Roppongi Art Night 2011 was canceled, it is now considering some other kind of event to make use of artworks it has already acquired.

Meanwhile, art charity activities are in the process of being organized. Prefectural and city governments such as Tokyo, Okinawa, and Saga have placed donation boxes in local museums, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo is holding various charity art events on April 2 and 3, including workshops and art shops and artists are getting together to discuss other ways to raise money. In the upcoming months, it is likely that more organizations will be finding ways to contribute to the cause.