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【Ishikawa】 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa lures visitors with hands-on exhibits2015.06.09

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Installation art, a relatively new genre of contemporary art, incorporates a whole range of materials – natural and man-made objects, sunlight, video, sound and anything creators can think of – to influence the way you experience and perceive a particular space. Such art works encourage viewers to touch, feel, play and eventually become a part of them.

What makes 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa one of the most popular museums in Japan is a variety of hands-on exhibits that offer something out of the ordinary. Its permanent exhibits induce people to develop playful imaginations which will help in turning an ordinary object into something extraordinary. One good example is Leandro Erlich’s ‘The Swimming Pool.’ From the poolside above, it looks like a regular pool filled with shimmering water. But it is actually a layer of only 10 centimeters of water put over a transparent glass. The pool can also be viewed from its inside as there is an empty space with aquamarine walls underneath the glass. Visitors above and below the water often gaze in surprise each other.

In 2004, 21st Century Museum opened next to Japanese garden Kenrokuen in the center of Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture. The flat circular-shaped building has an open structure with extensive use of glass walls. Surrounded by a lawn garden, the museum is designed to be a park. Its collection focuses on international contemporary art works produced since 1980 and site-specific installations associated with Kanazawa.

Other popular commissioned works include ‘Green Bridge’ – a 14-centimeter wall arranged with about 100 kinds of plants matching the region’s climate, ‘Colour activity house’ – a spiral-shaped pavilion installed with cyan, magenta and yellow glass walls, and ‘Blue Planet Sky’ – a square room with a square hole in the center of the ceiling to see the sky.

The museum has been a popular tourist destination, but the March 14 opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen is likely to add momentum to its growing popularity. The number of the visitors grew 19% to a record high of 1.76 million in the year ended March 2015. In March alone, the visitors jumped 50% from a year earlier.

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