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Open Air Museum

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

Hakone, Japan

Explore the famous Open Air Museum where you will find hundreds of sculptures in a delightful outdoor setting. In a compact 17.5 acres, the museum offers five galleries (including what is said to be the world’s first privately installed Picasso museum). But it is the part that gives the museum its name – its forestlike ‘open-air’ exhibition space that is most distinctive. Spectacularly placed at the foothills of several mountain ranges, the museum’s lush grounds cradle an extensive array of modern outdoor sculpture. Sometimes these pieces are boldly announced, as in the Alexander Calder stabiles and other huge works that form a literal centerpiece in a manicured lawn-like oval. Side paths meander to woods where understated, classically inspired, figurative sculpture by artists such as Alberto Giacometti and Aristide Maillol are tucked between trees and alongside bridges, carp ponds and waterfalls. 

The Open Air Museum came to fruition in the late 1960s. The Japanese media conglomerate Fujisankei Communications Group created the museum ‘to introduce the Japanese to the concept of modern and contemporary sculpture as an environmental art’. Its initial items hailed from the collection of the museum’s founder, former Fujisankei president Nobutaka Shikanai. Since then, the Museum has expanded significantly through gifts and through the Fujisankei Biennial, an international sculpture contest.

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