Incongruously, this large, seemingly ancient building is surrounded by glass and steel skyscrapers and you wonder how it survived here since it was built in 1894. Then you learn that the building is a 21st century faithful recreation of the original, first western-style office building in the area which stood on the same location and was demolished in the 1960s. The company responsible for the current incarnation used bits of the original plans and red brick with modern cast concrete. It opened as a Museum and Art Gallery in 2010.
We went primarily for the Special Exhibition which was all about Katagami -- printing by pattern blocks. The exhibition examined the influence of this Japanese art form on western art of the late 19th century. In one section we saw displays of the actual stencils and the kimono, karashimo and other terms that were made with them. Another three galleries traced the ways in which the design method was received in other countries – England, France, and the German speaking world. Finally, the exhibition showed how the patterns were applied to make contemporary Western products. It was fascinating! The permanent collection focuses on 19th-century Western artwork and Included in it is a group of over 200 works by Toulouse Lautrec.
Finally, the Gallery's appropriately named “1894”Cafe/Restaurant is in an elegant high-ceilinged room. It served a range of very good food and some Westerners were pleased to see knives and forks offered instead of chopsticks!
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