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The first exhibition at the newly renovated Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art (TMMA) was always going to be an important one. After a two-year closure to let the builders in, it wouldn’t have sufficed to just have a run-of-the-mill exhibition. Something special was required, and with “Masterpieces from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis” the TMMA has succeeded in putting itself back on Tokyo’s art map as if it had never been away.

The main attraction appears to be Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with A Pearl Earring” (1665), which is being given the same kind of treatment popular rides at Disneyland are given, namely a taped-off maze-like queue leading to the “holy of holies.” And the atmosphere of devout reverence that surrounds this work could easily trick you into thinking that you were looking at a masterpiece on a par with the Mona Lisa or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But you’re not.

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