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Project timeline

1990 – 1992



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Benesse House Museum Change this

Naoshima, Japan
by Tadao Ando Change this

Bennesse Art Site Naoshima with the Oval at the right side

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Description Change this

Benesse House Museum opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel, based on the concept "Coexistence of nature, art and architecture." The facility consists of four buildings, all designed by Tadao Ando: Museum, Oval (opened in 1995), Park and Beach (both opened in 2006) in the island of Naoshima.

The Museum, which performs the complex's principal function of displaying art, is an imposing structure open to the outside world, and visitors can sense the presence of nature even inside the building.


Benesse Art Site Naoshima is the collective name for art activities conducted by Benesse Holdings, Inc. and Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation on the islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea.

In addition to collecting art works, Benesse Art Site Naoshima provides artists and architects with opportunities to create and exhibit original works at various locations throughout the islands, thus enabling visitors to experience the very finest modern art. The fundamental aim is to create special places by situating modern art and architecture within the nature and the unique culture of the Seto Inland Sea, a landscape with a powerful cultural and historical resonance.

In 1985, Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founder of Fukutake Publishing Co., Ltd. (now Benesse Corporation), who nurtured a dream of creating an area where children from around the world could gather on an island in the Seto Inland Sea, came together with Chikatsugu Miyake, then mayor of Naoshima, whose own dream was to develop the south side of Naoshima as a pristine and educational cultural area. These two men formed a mutual agreement to develop Naoshima. Activities commenced with a trial camp for children, operated by employees of Fukutake Publishing.


In addition to the works in its collection, the Museum also contains permanent site-specific installations that artists have created specially for this building, locating the installations on their own and designing the works for those spaces.

In fact, 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. One of the pleasures of visiting Benesse House is unexpectedly encountering works of art, not only within the walls of the Museum but also while strolling around the grounds, enjoying the abundant natural beauty of the Inland Sea region.


Naoshima is a smallish island in the Inland Sea of Japan. The site is perched atop a narrow promontory on the southern tip of the island and overlooks the gently lapping waves below.

The museum is oriented and designed so that visitors can reach it directly from the ferry landing. After crossing a wharf,guests arrive at a terraced square that is the entrance to the complex itself. The terrace doubles as a stage for outdoor events and houses the entrance to an underground annexe of the building. Only once you have ascended the stairway with stone walls does the main nucleus of the museum become visible.

Because the complex is situated in a spectacular national park, more than half of the building's footprint is underground, a concept that well to minimise the visual impact upon the surrounding terrain.

Upon ascending or descending the ramp, visitors pass through the main entrance of the building and access a large, two-storey subterranean gallery that is about fifty metres long and eight metres wide. The wing containing the hotel, the gallery and graded terrace all face the coast, allowing the serene seascape with boats and dazzling sunsets to sweep into the interior of the building. Around the complex are pathways periodically punctuated with vista points from which to relax and absorb the ocean views.

Much like the sculptures outside in the museum courtyard, this building was placed amidst an expansive natural landscape, dug into the earth in order to generate a new lanscape.



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