Benesse Art Site Naoshima by Tadao Ando located in Naoshima Island, Japan

Chichu Art Museum

Chichu Art Museum was constructed in 2004 as a site rethinking the relationship between nature and people. The museum was built mostly underground to avoid affecting the beautiful natural scenery of the Seto Inland sea. Artworks by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria are on permanent display in this building designed by Tadao Ando. Despite being primarily subterranean, the museum lets in an abundance of natural light that changes the appearance of the artworks and the ambiance of the space itself with the passage of time, throughout the day and all along the four seasons of the year. Taking form as the artists and architect bounced ideas off each other, the museum in its entirety can be seen as a very large site-specific artwork.

Permanent Collection
Claude Monet

Five paintings from the Water Lilies series produced by the great Impressionist painter Claude Monet in his later years can be enjoyed under natural light in the museum. The size of the room, its design and the materials used all were carefully selected to unite the Monet paintings with the surrounding space.

Walter De Maria

The entire art space, containing a sphere 2.2 meters in diameter and 27 gilded wooden geometric forms, was created under the direction of Walter De Maria as an artwork. Viewers experience this space under the natural light coming in from the ceiling, producing dramatic changes in the room’s illumination depending on the hour.

Born in 1935 in Albany, California. Studied history and obtained a master’s degree in art at the University of California, Berkeley from 1953 to 1959. Died in 2013 (at age 77).

Significant Works: The Lightning Field (1977, New Mexico), The New York Earth Room (1977, New York), The Broken Kilometer (1979, New York), Seen/Unseen Known/Unknown (2000, Naoshima).

James Turrell

Light itself is presented as art in James Turrell’s work. The three artworks on display were selected amongst Turrell’s representative series and span his entire career., enabling visitors to experience the changes in his work throughout the years.

Open Sky (2004) is on view during the museum’s regular opening hours, but a special sunset viewing, Night Program, is also available. Click here for more information on the Night Program.

Using solely concrete – the main material employed in Ando’s architecture – steel, glass and wood, the design of the Chichu Art Museum is reduced to the very minimum. Built almost entirely underground, the museum balances the contradictory qualities of being both non-monumental but highly architectural


Benesse House Museum

Benesse House Museum opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel, based on the concept of “coexistence of nature, art and architecture.” Designed by Tadao Ando, the facility is built on high ground overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and features large apertures that serve to open up the interior to the splendid natural surroundings. In addition to exhibiting the painting, sculpture, photography, and installations in its collection, the Museum also contains permanent site-specific installations that artists have created especially for the building, selecting locations on their own and designing the works for those spaces. The Museum‘s artworks are found not just within its galleries, but in all parts of the building, as well as in scattered locations along the seashore that borders the complex and in the nearby forest. Benesse House Museum is truly a rare site where nature, art, and architecture come together, in an environment containing numerous site-specific works created for the natural environs of Naoshima or inspired by the architectural spaces they inhabit.


The Benesse House Oval is one of the buildings designed by Japan architect, Tadao Ando as part of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima. The Benesse facility consists of four buildings, all designed by Tadao Ando: the Benesse House Museum, Oval (opened in 1995), Park and Beach (both opened in 2006) in the island of Naoshima. This project was for an annex to the Benesse House hotel that was originally built in 1992. Located on the side of a hill, it was part of a complex of buildings that brought museums, galleries, conference facilities, a hotel and a restaurant all onto one site. The extension, which was 40 meters higher up at the top of the hill, is linked to the existing core of the unique Benesse complex by numerous walkways as well as a funicular monorail. With an oval plan and only one level, the building is set in the heart of a forested area that boasts a lovely variety of plant and tree life. The annex also offers vista points from which to appreciate the lush vegetation and spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea.

In order to protect the environment, part of the new structure and its garden was set underground, as in the existing one. The oval itself measures 40 meters on its long axis and 20 meters on the shorter one. Luxury accommodation here includes four double guest rooms, two suites, and an in-house cafe. The central courtyard also has a large pool with an oval shape measuring 20 by 10 meters on its long and short axes, respectively. It forms a sort of liquid sculpture and is enclosed by a portico that could be used as an outside gallery.

Inside the Oval, an L-shaped wall was constructed with the same type of stone used for access to the main building. Water features were then made an integral part of the entrance design and used to link areas around the structure. At the edge of the complex, water flowed directly into the sea and the verdant hanging garden appeared to be an extension of the surrounding vegetation. Fusing with the landscape and the sea, the Oval and its wonderful garden offer a completely different nature experience.





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