KOBE — The opening of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art here Saturday is a testament to the port city’s restoration since the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The three-building museum, dubbed the Hall of the Arts, has a floor space of 27,500 sq. meters, the largest in western Japan and second only in Japan to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

The museum, built in HAT Kobe, a waterfront town in Chuo Ward that sprang up after the quake, displays some 7,000 works from the now defunct Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, which remained open until 2001 despite being damaged in the quake. It also provides space for musical concerts, performance and plays.

The new museum, which cost 30 billion yen, is equipped with the latest quake-proof technology, meaning its works of art would not be damaged in an earthquake of magnitude 7.3, the strength of the 1995 temblor, according to the museum.

Designed by well-known architect Tadao Ando, each of the three-story buildings has a unique structure. The exhibition rooms are surrounded by concrete walls, which are in turn encased behind a glass wall, giving visitors a full view of Kobe Bay as they cross a corridor between the concrete and glass walls.

The first regular exhibition, which runs through July 21, features 204 works, including 15 new pieces, such as early paintings by Tadanori Yokoo, famed for his graphic art and posters.

The Dream of Museums exhibition, which runs through June 23, charts the popularity of museums in Japan.

In three exhibition rooms, Japanese oil paintings from the 1890s to 1980s are displayed in chronological order.

— a new method of display, said one of the curators.

Another three rooms are dedicated to local painters Heizo Kanayama, Ryohei Koiso and Kagaku Murakami.

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