The Teshima Art Museum is the crown jewel of art on Teshima. It is a lovely place that is a victim of its own success. Created by Ryue Nishizawa and Rei Naito, this artwork combines the artistic talents of Rei Naito with the architectural skills of Ryue Nishizawa. The cost to enter the museum can be a little steep but it is well worth the money to visit at least once.
Getting to the Teshima Art Museum is pretty easy. If you are like me, you will start at the Teshima Art Museum bus stop. The bus stop is located at the top of the hill, just above the museum itself. The view of the sea and the surrounding hills are beautiful and definitely needs time to be enjoyed. The only problem is that if you enjoy the rice terraces and the view for too long, you will be at the back of the line when you enter the museum. It is best to enjoy the views afterwards but it can be pretty difficult to put it off till after the museum as the view is amazing.
Once you enter the museum’s site, you enter a small building where you pay your admission and use the washroom. I would suggest using the washroom before heading to the museum as enjoying the artwork can take a long time, depending on the person. I believe you can exit to the washroom and return to the artwork, but you will probably have to line up all over again.
The museum is located in a small flat area on the side of the hill. You walk around the back, through a small forest, and then you line up. During the Triennale, the Teshima Art Museum can be pretty busy. It may not look busy from the outside as people pay the admission and then head around the back to line up to get into the main gallery. It is a little deceiving as you never know how long it will take to get though the museum, let alone how long it will take to just get inside.
Once you get to the entrance, you take off your shoes and walk in. There is a small doorway and once you enter you are hit by the size of the artwork. The main gallery is pretty simple. The main gallery is nothing more than a concrete dome with 2 openings on opposing sides. The dome itself was an architectural masterpiece and was a challenge to create at that time. It is also very smooth making it easy to walk around.
The floor itself is also very beautiful. The concrete looks hard but it doesn’t feel hard. It is “soft” in the sense that you can lie down and take a nap relatively comfortably. In fact, many people do take a nap and it can be a very relaxing experience. I can imagine people doing yoga too, but I don’t think that is allowed inside. I’m sure that someone could decide to create a special yoga event and it would be very popular.
There are a lot of rules when visiting the Teshima Art Museum. The first is that you have to take off your shoes; the second is photos are forbidden; third, no talking; fourth, no drawing, although this is not really enforced as long as you are being quiet. There is no time limit for how long you can spend in the main gallery so you can actually spend the entire day there. Do be aware that because the gallery is very busy you will be preventing others from having their own chance at enjoying the gallery as well.
There is no specific way to enjoy the gallery. The entire building is the art and you are supposed to enjoy it in any way you see fit. The openings in the dome are there to allow air to pass through as well as to amplify the sounds from the forest. The cool air in the summer was perfect and the sounds of trees rustling in the wind and the birds chirping were very peaceful. It is as if you are in nature, yet completely in a sterile environment at the same time. This makes things feel very safe. The floor also has drops of water in certain areas. The drops actually move slowly into small drain holes making this art breathe. I would consider bringing a change of socks as each time I visited I somehow manage to step on the water at least once. The movement of the water was done on purpose to help connect the artwork with nature and to show the passage of time.
After you leave the main gallery there really isn’t much to do. There is a small gift shop and cafe that is like a mini version of the main gallery. I do like it but it wasn’t really good for a long time. The food didn’t look very interesting as I would rather go elsewhere on the island to eat. There is also a gift shop but they don’t have anything that interested me.
The Teshima Art Museum is a wonderful place to visit. It has become very popular so it is very busy these days, even when the Setouchi Triennale isn’t running. I really like it but would love to visit in the winter to see if I can get the place all to myself. I think it would be amazing to be at the Teshima Art Museum by oneself or with a couple friends. While having dozens of other people in the main gallery doesn’t ruin the experience, the idea that you can be alone in such an expansive dome is a dream that I wish could happen in the future.