While most regard Tokyo as the hub of contemporary art in Japan, Kyoto also has a large contemporary art scene that continues to emerge. With the traditional charm of Kyoto, it sets a unique backdrop for modern and contemporary works. Through many initiatives, contemporary art in Kyoto has become more established and esteemed as seen in the galleries, exhibitions, and studios found throughout Kyoto. For art lovers or design lovers, Kyoto has become an integral part of contemporary art in Japan and is worth visiting. Here are some of the best contemporary art galleries in Kyoto worth visiting.
National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto
The National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, also known as MOMAK is an iconic art institution not only in Kyoto but in Japan. The impressive building was designed by well-established Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki and the museum showcases an extensive collection of both local and international artists. The focus of the MOMAK is the promote and preserve the works pertaining to the twentieth century both in Japan and internationally while highlighting local artists in Kyoto and the surrounding Kansai area. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of exhibits showcasing a variety of mediums from paintings, sculptures, textiles, lacquers, jewelry, metalworks, and photography. Easily one of the best contemporary art galleries in Kyoto and a must-visit for art lovers and aficionados.
606-8344 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Okazaki Enshojicho, 26−1
9:30 am–5:00 pm (Admission until 4:30 pm)
Extended hours Every Friday and Saturday at 9:30 am–8:00 pm(Admission until 7:30)
Closed Every Monday (or, if Monday is a national holiday, the following Tuesday)
Forever Museum of Contemporary Art
A perfect fusion of old traditional elements and modern design, the Forever Museum of Contemporary Art is found in the Gion district of Kyoto. The museum stays true to Japanese design incorporating a tatami floor and an authentic Japanese garden. Beyond this, one of the most unique parts of the museum is the manner in which the works of art are hung. Strategically, paintings and photos are situated lower on the wall space to encourage visitors to sit on the tatami floor in order to visualize and appreciate the art. Showcasing the work of major artists including Yayoi Kusama one of the most well-known artists in Japan whose exhibition “Pumpkin Forever” continues to remain on display into early 2019 and new exhibitions and installations will follow, continually rotating established and upcoming artists.
70-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0074, Japan
10:00 am -6:00 pm. (last entry at 5:30 pm)
Gallery Morning Kyoto
A smaller gallery in the contemporary art scene, the Gallery Morning Kyoto offers a more intimate and personalized experience making it one of the best contemporary art galleries in Kyoto. The elegant museum is found in the cultural hub of Okazaki and continues to push the boundaries, sourcing up and coming artists that are relevant and avant-garde. For those looking to see some new works and an in-depth look at creativity and design, a visit to Gallery Morning Kyoto will certainly satisfy.
605-0034 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm Closed Sunday
COHJU Contemporary Art
One of the newer galleries, COHJU Contemporary Art was established in 2008 and serves to promote the work of upcoming and emerging artists in the region. With rotating exhibitions, the gallery is up-to-date and promotes creative and cutting-edge pieces. The space itself is minimalist and simple putting the focal point on the works of art, also making it one of the best contemporary art museums in Kyoto.
1F COHJU Bldg., 557 Bisyamon-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0981
1:00pm – 6:00 pm
Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Holidays during exhibitions
Mori Yu Gallery Kyoto
A commercial art space focused on showcasing the work of both established and recognized artists along with up-and-coming new artists, Mori Yu Gallery Kyoto is an essential part of contemporary art in Kyoto. Showcasing work that is diverse, timeless, relevant and often with traditional undertones, the gallery is committed to beauty, simplicity, and innovation, Mori Yu is one of the best contemporary art galleries in Kyoto and in all of Japan. A frequent staple at Asian art fairs such as Art Taipei and Art Stage Singapore, Mori Yu Gallery continues to influence, promote and preserve contemporary works of art in Japan.
4 – 19 Shougoin Rengezou-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Closed on Monday, Tuesday and National holiday
Check out the best contemporary art galleries in Tokyo as well.