5 Worth-visiting Tokyo Museums: A Journey through Art and Culture

Welcome to Tokyo, where art and culture blend seamlessly. Explore these five museums that showcase the vibrant tapestry of artistic expression, from fashion revolutions to environmental activism.

1. The National Art Centre, Tokyo – Where Diversity Meets Expression

Discover The National Art Centre, a hub for diverse artistic expressions and a perfect spot for Instagram photos.

The National Art Centre, Tokyo (NACT), founded in 2007, is a vibrant cultural hub without permanent collections. As the fifth institution under the National Museum of Art, it offers diverse art shows across 14,000㎡, fostering new cultural experiences. In addition, NACT actively collects and shares varied art resources, providing an enriching environment through educational programs and accessible information.

Special Exhibition: Yves Saint Laurent – Across the Style (20 September 2023 – 11 December 2023)

Embark on a retrospective journey through Yves Saint Laurent’s 40-year career, exploring 110 looks, accessories, drawings, and photographs. This exhibition, in collaboration with Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, offers a rare glimpse into the unrivalled world of beauty that emerged from this fashion icon.

Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10:00-18:00 (Last Admission: 17:30)
Friday and Saturday: 10:00-20:00 (Last Admission: 19:30)
Closed on Tuesdays

2. Ueno Royal Museum – A Tapestry of Nature and Paintings

Engage with the Ueno Royal Museum’s rich history.

Managed by the public-service incorporated foundation, the Japan Art Association, the Ueno Royal Museum, under the patronage of Prince Hitachi, opened in April 1972 as part of the Japan Art Association Museum’s renovations. Nestled in Ueno Park, it’s cherished for its harmony with the surroundings. The museum hosts annual exhibitions like the Ueno Royal Museum Grand Prize, Japanese Nature Painting, and VOCA Exhibition. Established in 1879, the museum is an integral part of Japan’s oldest art association.

Special Exhibition: Claude Monet – Journey to Series Paintings (20 October 2023 – 28 January 2024)

Explore the world of Claude Monet in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the First Impressionist Exhibition. This exhibition features representative works from more than 40 museums worldwide, offering a unique perspective on Monet’s “series paintings.”

Address: 1-2 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 110-0007, Japan

Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (entry by 16:30) May change on a per-event basis

3. The National Museum of Western Art – Masters’ Artistry Unveiled

Explore the gem of Western art at The National Museum of Western Art. Many rare pieces by the great masters can be founded here like Joan Miro, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, even at the regular exhibitions.

Established in April 1959, the National Museum of Western Art originated from the Matsukata Collection, highlighting Impressionist paintings and Rodin’s sculptures from the French government. As Japan’s sole national institution for western art, it’s dedicated to showcasing works from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. With Le Corbusier’s 1959 Main Building and MAEKAWA Kunio’s 1979 New Wing, the museum continually enriches its permanent collection. Collaborating with media, it presents three annual special exhibitions, featuring loaned works from overseas. In 2001, it merged into the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art. Recognised in 2016, it, along with Le Corbusier’s architecture, entered the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Painting (1953) by Joan Miro
<<Water Lilies>> by Claude Monet
<<Seated Women with a Little Round Hat>> by Pablo Picasso

Special Exhibition: The Cubist Revolution – An Exhibition from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris (3 October 2023 – 28 January 2024)

Witness the transformative impact of Cubism on Western art. This exhibition, with works from the Centre Pompidou collection, delves into the movement’s origins, challenging aesthetics, and influence on diverse art forms.

Address: 7-7 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan

Opening Hours: 9:30-17:30, Fridays and Saturdays: 9:30 – 20:00 (Admission ends 30 mins. before closing time)

4. Nezu Museum – Embracing Zen and Elegance

Step into the Nezu Museum, founded to conserve pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art.

The Nezu Museum, rooted in the passion of businessman Nezu Kaichirō (1860-1940), showcases an extensive collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. Originally opened in 1941 on the site of the Nezu family residence, the museum faced wartime challenges but resumed exhibitions in 1946. Under Kaichirō Jr.’s leadership, the museum expanded and renovated in 1964 and 1991. In 2006, Nezu Kōichi initiated a significant reconstruction, adding a new Main Building and increasing the collection from 4,642 to approximately 7,400 works. This diverse array includes seven National Treasures, 88 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 Important Art Objects. Kaichirō Sr.’s eclectic taste, spanning painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, and more, remains a cornerstone, complemented by posthumous acquisitions and generous donations, showcasing the museum’s enduring cultural significance.

Special Exhibition: Embroidery and Weaving – The Gorgeous World of Japanese Textiles (16 December 2023 – 28 January 2024)

Delve into the brilliance of weaving and embroidery techniques, showcasing textiles as markers of high status in Japanese culture. Explore ancient textile fragments, Noh costumes, and Edo-period kosode in this cornucopia of gorgeous and majestic textiles.

Address: 6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062

Opening Hours: Only open when there is an exhibition, closed on Mondays and Dec. 25 – Jan. 4 for the New Year holidays. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.(last entry: 4:30 p.m.)

5. Mori Art Museum – Contemporary Art with a Tower View

Photo from the museum

Marvel at the Mori Art Museum atop Mori Tower, offering a spectacular view of Tokyo.

Roppongi Hills envisioned a pioneering urban development, culminating in the Mori Art Museum’s establishment in October 2003 atop the central Mori Tower. Positioned as a visible beacon across Tokyo, the museum aims to foster enjoyment, stimulation, and open discussion about cultural and societal dynamics. Beyond exhibitions, diverse learning programs cater to audiences spanning school children to senior citizens, locally and globally. Embracing its role as a platform for artists from Japan and East Asia, the museum has garnered critical acclaim for original exhibitions centred on universal themes since its inception. Committed to bridging the best contemporary art with Tokyo’s diverse audience, the Mori Art Museum remains a cultural landmark shaping the city’s cultural landscape.

Special Exhibition: Mori Art Museum 20th Anniversary Exhibition – Our Ecology Toward a Planetary Living (18 October 2023 – 31 March 2024)

Photo from the museum

Reflect on environmental issues through four chapters of diverse expression by 34 artists from home and abroad. Explore about 100 works, including historical pieces and those commissioned for the exhibition, urging contemplation on humanity’s impact on the planet.

Address: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Opening Hours: Daily (except for Tuesdays): 10:00-22:00 (Last Admission: 21:30), Tuesdays: 10:00-17:00 (Last Admission: 16:30)

Embark on a cultural journey through Tokyo’s museums, where each visit promises a unique and enriching experience.

Opening hours and exhibitions are upon museums’ arrangements.