The museum was established in 2017 by the queen of anti-minimalism herself, Yayoi Kusama, and is run by the Yayoi Kusama Foundation with the objective of promoting her work and engaging people from all walks of life with contemporary art.
The location of the museum has particular significance, set in a residential neighbourhood in Shinjuku near to the artist’s studio and Seiwa psychiatric hospital, where she has lived voluntarily since 1977. Designed by the architectural practice Kume Sekkei, the smooth white five-storey building stands out among the neighbourhood’s cityscape. The building looks slim, but houses a range of Kusama’s colourful, psychedelic, larger-than-life artworks, such as an installation from her Infinity Mirror Rooms series, which has become one of the most Instagrammable artworks of all time, thanks to its aesthetic of endless reflections. The museum displays major works from the artist’s earlier years up until the present day and holds events including lectures for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of her career and life.
Up on the fifth floor is a small library and reading area, providing a quiet and relaxing break from Kusama’s multi-sensory installations. Be sure to not miss Kusama’s iconic pumpkin statue on the rooftop, which sparkles in the full light of day.
Owing to its popularity, the museum limits its intake to avoid crowding and you are only allowed to stay for 90 minutes. Getting tickets can be a slightly long process, as they are not something you can buy on the door. They go on sale on the first day of each month, for dates in the month after next, at 10am sharp Tokyo time through the museum’s official ticketing website. It is worth it, though, as the immersive and multi-sensory experience of Kusama’s art is very unique and definitely a place to visit if in Tokyo.
Be aware though, that the Yayoi Kusama Museum is temporarily closed until 28 April 2023, to prepare for the upcoming exhibition. It changes its exhibitions twice a year, so there is always something new to see, whether that is sculpture, installations, painting, video art or poetry from one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan.
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