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Greeting from the Museum Director

Oita Prefecture – an area with a mild climate and scenic beauty that has been cultivated by nature; a place where tradition and customs meet and the kind and gentle characteristics of the citizens exist alongside the absorption of cultures from Asia and from the West.

In the heart of Oita City, a “Museum of Encounters and of the Five Senses,” closely connected to Oita’s unique culture and environment, is born.

The building was designed by world-renowned architect Shigeru Ban. It is an invigorating architectural space that lets in a great deal of light and is filled with versatility. It is truly a museum that will constantly change and develop as it grows.

This museum has been developed so that it is not only a culmination of the heritages of both art and museums worldwide, but also so that it is a place where people can experience locally global encounters amidst objects from different cultures.

Because of the spread of art, and a limitless vitality that transcends all genres, we are all inspired by both literacy and the five senses that are rooted in our natural imagination and our physical bodies, as well as in our every-day lives,

I, along with all of you, want to create something singular and unrivalled, something that has never been seen before anywhere else in the world; an experience of art and a place for the twenty-first century.

Ryu Niimi
Director, Oita Prefectural Art Museum

Director's Profile

Niimi was born in 1958 in Hiroshima Prefecture.
He graduated from Keio University in Tokyo, majoring in French Literature, Faculty of Letters.
He worked for the Seibu Museum of Art (later the Sezon Museum of Art) from 1982 to 1999, when he became professor of the Department of Arts Policy and Management, Musashino Art University. Niimi worked as Curatorial Advisor for The Isam Noguchi Garden Museum Japan, Visiting fellow of the Keio University Art Center and Curatorial Advisor of the Art Biotop Nasu, NIKI RESORT INC.
In 2013, Niimi became director in charge of preparations for the opening of Oita Prefectural Art Museum for the Oita Prefecture Art, Culture and Sports Promotion Foundation (iichiko Culture Center) in Oita Prefecture.

Areas of expertise:

History of modern and contemporary design and art, contemporary art theory, new museology covering art, design and management; study of space comparison and space perception originating in Japonisme; influential history of art, design and architecture, history of reception, history of comparative culture and art sociology.

Major Exhibition Projects:

“Japanese aesthetics and sense of space”; 1990, 1992, 1994
“Bauhaus 1919-1933”; 1995
“Isamu Noguchi and Rosanjin Kitaoji”; 1996
“Le Corbusier”; 1996
“De Stijl 1917-1932”; 1997
(All held at Seibu Museum of Art/Sezon Museum of Art)
“One Aspect of Contemporary Japanese Design”; 1994, Guest curator, at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea)
“Art and Society: Earthquake”; 2000, at Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki
“Beyond the Surface - Japanese Style of Making Things”; 2003, organized by Singapore Art Museum in collaboration with The Japan Foundation, at The Manila Art Center
“Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932”; 2011, at Shiodome Museum
“Utsurobune Where do we come from? Where are we going?”; 2011, at Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki

Major literary works:

“Japonism in Space- Japanese Influence on Western Architecture and Design” (INAX Publishing, 1992)
“Essays on Modern Garden and Architecture” (Tankosya Publishing, 2000)

Major activities as an artist:

I am a born curator, but for the last ten-odd years I have been producing works and collages of small boxes packed with miscellaneous objects, and have held a number of solo exhibitions called “Daughters of the Future”. Artists I admire include American artist Joseph Cornell, German artist Hannah Höch and Czech artist Jindřich Štyrský. All of these artists are gifted masters of assemblage and collage. Or you could call them saints “possessed with the souls of objects”. To exaggerate a little, I believe that I myself am also the metempsychosis of their spirits, and I don’t mind in the least being called their epigone. Recently I have become obsessed with artist Paul Klee, and I’ve continued to make dolls, as though Klee may have bequeathed to a child.

“Solo Exhibition of Box”; 1994, at Kodama Gallery, 1995, at Ginza Komatsu
“Solo Exhibition of Box, College and Doll”; 2000, at Bunpodo Gallery
“Doll Exhibition with Students”; 2000, at Gallery Gen
“Doll and Sketch of Food”; 2002, at AKI-EX Gallery
“Garden of the Dolls, with Students”; 2004, at AKI-EX Gallery
“Garden of Flowers and Dolls, with Students”; 2006, at Gallery SATSU
“Oita-World Museum”; 2013, at Gallery TOM