Important Cultural PropertyArchitectural Materials Related to the Former Imperial Museum of Kyoto (now, Special Exhibition Hall)

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  • One set
  • 19th century
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • D甲6

The Imperial Museum of Kyoto (now the Kyoto National Museum) was founded in 1889 to preserve the important and historic art works of Kyoto. Construction of the museum complex, including a main pavilion and front gate, was carried out by the Kunaisho Takumiryo (a team of artisans and specialists working for the Imperial Household Ministry). Groundbreaking took place in 1892 (Meiji 25), and construction was completed in 1895 (Meiji 28).Against a backdrop of the Higashiyama mountain range, the main pavilion looks out on a garden and the main gate, with the streets of Kyoto City beyond. Viewed from the front, the building was designed to convey the image of a phoenix taking flight from the mountain. Between the central portion of the pavilion and the side wings are seven domed roofs of varying size, beneath which are antique object display rooms connected by nine flanking corridors used to display paintings; in the center is a sculpture room set off by rows of pillars.In its outward appearance and spatial configuration, the complex reflects the pictorial and artificial baroque style of seventeenth-century European palace architecture. However, in shape, color, texture and size, it conveys a sense of Japanese tradition blending well with the natural beauty of Kyoto. Architect Katayama Tokuma (1854-1917) was a member of the first graduating class of the Architectural Department of the Imperial College of Engineering (J., Kobu Daigakko Zoka Gakka; later it became part of the University of Tokyo), where he trained under the British architect Josiah Conder (1852-1920). Katayama also designed the main pavilion of the Nara National Museum as well as the Akasaka Detached Palace (officially known as the Geihinkan, or State Guesthouse) in Tokyo, a particularly distinguished example of Western-style architecture from the late Meiji period (1868-1912).From its glass-roof lighting and sturdy fire- and earthquake-resistant structure to its use of terrain to combat humidity, this museum pavilion represented the acme of contemporary museum design. The finest techniques of the day from all over the country were concentrated in its construction, as seen in the construction tag. Now, over a century later, the reputation of the museum as a work of art in its own right is recognized.