21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa opened in October 2004 with the stated purpose of “generating new culture and revitalizing its community.” In carrying out the basic functions of an art museum – collecting, preserving, and exhibiting cultural products on the basis of study and research – it has attempted to stay oriented to the present while providing stimulation to traditional culture and contributing to the creation of new culture. Since preparations for establishing the museum were first begun in the year 2000, eighteen years ago, we have made a continuous and determined effort to build a collection of the highest quality, considering this to be one of the most important and fundamental activities of the museum. The goal of our acquisition program will continue to be the systematic formation of a unique collection that is responsive to the current state of the world, focusing on the three types of art specified in the acquisition policy as listed below.

Acquisition Policy is as follows

  • 1.Works produced since 1980 that propose new values.
  • 2.Works influencing such new values and providing points of reference in terms of art history since 1900.
  • 3.Powerfully creative works closely associated with Kanazawa.

Proposing New Values

The museum has energetically pursued its goal of staying oriented to the present by building the core of the collection with works that closely reflect the present situation of art. The preparations for construction and the opening of the museum took place during the transition from the twentieth to the twenty-first century. As the museum has turned its attention to successive presents, it has found itself confronting a society in transition with a kaleidoscopic range of values. The artists and artworks influenced by current conditions have responded to the transformations of modernism that have appeared since the 1980s and the rapid development of globalism that has occurred on a worldwide scale since the 1990s. In the process of observing art and artists, we have inductively adopted six key words and phrases that indicate the diverse values of art that have emerged since the 1980s and differ from the isms and movements that characterized art history through the 1970s. These concepts have become guidelines in selecting works for the collection. Displacement and crossover between different cultures by people moving across cultural boundaries are common elements in much recent art. We have made many discoveries of artistic expression based on modernism in peripheral regions of the world. Immateriality refers to the creation of new spaces and information through the Internet. Collaboration and participation in art opens paths of new communication between different fields and genres. Natural generation and organism are concepts that reflect a heightened interest in life and the body resulting from progress in bioengineering and concern with developing a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. Everydayness and individuation are ideas related to the better understanding and solution of social problems that have been achieved through examination of everyday life and observation of others after grand narratives were invalidated by the end of the Cold War. Quotation and reproduction of information accumulated in the past are also important in today’s art. These categories are indicative of the new values and different combinations of values that have emerged in contemporary art. By looking at contemporary art in terms of these concepts, we can gain a better understanding of the characteristics of the age as a whole as well as the limited sphere of art. Eighteen years have passed since 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa began building its collection with the help of these guiding ideas. During this period, important events have occurred that were turning points in history, such as the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Great East Japan Earthquake. We continue to reassess our guidelines with respect to the period since 1980 and believe that it is increasingly important to realize that we are constructing history by deciding which artworks should be used to tell the story of the age as we look back at the past from the perspective of the present.

Historical Points of Reference

While focusing on art from 1980 to the present, we have also acquired works made since 1900 that have been especially influential or are closely related to more recent work because of their helpfulness in elucidating the historical background. The art made since 1980 has been greatly influenced by previous art movements such as Conceptualism, Pop, and Minimalism and makes extensive use of previous methods such as installation, performance, and audience participation. Many reevaluations of art produced after 1900 have been made in recent years, and they have helped illuminate the art of the present. There are many cases in which the art of the past has been understood in new ways, attracting empathy and interest. More than 2,900 works by Awazu Kiyoshi were bequeathed to the museum in 2006, becoming an important part of the collection that is especially useful in exploring the fields of design and architecture as well as art as such.

Works Connected to Kanazawa

We have also paid close attention to artworks connected with Kanazawa, works that were made by artists who were born or have lived in Kanazawa and merit being added to the collection. Crafts have had a particularly important position in the cultural policies of Kanazawa City, and we can look forward to the opening up of new territories of creativity through the combination of craft with contemporary art. The museum has featured progressive craft artists who have engaged in innovative experiments with materials and artists who have been trained at Kanazawa College of Art and Kanazawa Utatsuyama Kogei Kobo, giving special consideration to craftspeople whose artistic identity has been formed by local influences and positively embracing the regional culture of Kanazawa, which is based on local history and tradition but open to innovation. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa hopes to function as a platform for historical understanding and discussions of the future, and we believe that our collection can be made more valuable by looking to highly creative forms of art that cross the usual boundaries between genres.