The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum or just the TOP museum for short is a stylish museum solely to photography and moving images.
Located in the trendy neighborhood of Ebisu, the museum boasts a vast collection of photographs from Japan and around the world.
Founded in January 1995, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum has become a significant cultural institution in Tokyo.
The museum’s permanent collection features over 34,000 photographs, including works and the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and lectures related to photography and moving images.
History and Background
The TOP Museum, was established in Ebisu in 1995 as Japan’s first comprehensive art museum dedicated to photographs and moving images. The museum is one of the few art museums in the world that focuses on photography and moving images. It is in the Yebisu Garden Place, which is a commercial and cultural complex in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
The museum was founded with the goal of promoting photography as a form of art and providing a platform for both Japanese and international photographers to showcase their work.
The museum has a collection of over 33,000 photographs and moving images, with a focus on Japanese photography from the 19th century to the present day. The museum also has a library with over 40,000 books and magazines related to photography and moving images.
It has become a significant cultural institution in Japan and has hosted many exhibitions, lectures, and workshops related to photography and moving images. The museum’s permanent collection includes works by famous Japanese photographers such as Ken Domon, Shomei Tomatsu, and Daido Moriyama, as well as works by international photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank.
Exhibitions and Collections
The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum houses a permanent collection of over 33,000 works, which includes still images and moving ones, the museum hosts an ever-changing series of exhibitions that showcase both established and emerging photographers. These exhibitions often explore themes, from traditional Japanese photography to contemporary art.
One of the most popular exhibitions at the museum is the annual “New Cosmos of Photography” exhibition, which features the work of young, up-and-coming photographers from around the world. This exhibition has been running since 1991 and has helped to launch the careers of many notable photographers.
The museum also hosts a range of workshops, lectures, and other events related to photography. These events are designed to help visitors deepen their understanding of photography as an art form and to provide opportunities for learning and exploration.
If you’re interested in visiting the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, it’s recommended to check the museum’s website for information about current exhibitions and events.
Facilities and Amenities
The museum has a spacious entrance hall with a ticket counter, coat check, and a small gift shop selling souvenirs related to photography. There are also vending machines selling drinks and light snacks.
The museum has a total of four floors, with the first floor dedicated to exhibitions and the other floors housing a library, a research room, and a lecture room. The exhibitions are curated to showcase the works of both Japanese and international photographers, with themes ranging from historical to contemporary.
The museum also offers services to enhance the visitor experience. Audio guides are available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, providing detailed explanations and commentary on the exhibits. There is also a free Wi-Fi service available throughout the museum, allowing visitors to easily share their experiences on social media.
For those who want to take a break from the exhibitions, there is a small café on the first floor where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
It is worth noting that the museum has a strict no photography policy inside the exhibitions, in order to protect the works on display. However, visitors are free to take photos in the entrance hall and other designated areas.
If you’re planning to visit the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, here’s everything you need to know:
The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00, with extended hours on Thursdays and Fridays until 20:00. The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.
The admission fee for adults is 500 yen, while high school and university students can enter for 300 yen. Children under 18 and senior citizens aged 65 and over can enter for free.
Guided tours are available in English and Japanese, and can be booked in advance. The tour lasts for approximately 60 minutes and costs 1,000 yen per person.
The museum is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators available throughout the building. Wheelchairs are also available for rent free of charge.
The museum’s library is on the fourth floor and is open to the public free of charge. It contains a vast collection of photography books, magazines, and reference materials from Japan and around the world.
While photography is allowed in most areas of the museum, there are some restrictions in certain exhibitions. Visitors are advised to check with museum staff before taking any photographs.
Upcoming Events and Programs
The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum offers events and programs throughout the year. These include exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and school programs for children. Here’s a few of the upcoming events and programs that you can look forward to:
- Exhibition: “The World of Tadahiko Hayashi” – From April 16 to June 12, 2023, the museum will feature an exhibition of the works of Tadahiko Hayashi, a renowned Japanese photographer known for his portraits of artists and intellectuals in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Lecture: “The Art of Photography” – On May 20, 2023, the museum will host a lecture on the art of photography by a prominent photographer. You can learn about the history of photography, different techniques, and the role of photography in contemporary art.
- Workshop: “Darkroom Techniques” – On June 24, 2023, the museum will offer a workshop on darkroom techniques. Participants can learn how to develop and print black and white photographs using traditional methods.
- School Program: “Discovering Tokyo through Photography” – From July to August 2023, the museum will offer a school program for children to discover Tokyo through photography. Participants can learn about the city’s history, culture, and architecture, and take photographs of their favorite places.
Note that the museum’s events and programs may change, so check the official website for the latest information. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply interested in Japanese culture, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum’s upcoming events and programs offer Something to interest all.
The TOP Museum is in Yebisu Garden Place in Meguro, Tokyo. To get there by train, follow these directions:
Ebisu Station: The most convenient station to access the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum is Ebisu Station, which is served by the JR Yamanote Line and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
From Ebisu Station to the museum:
- After arriving at Ebisu Station, take the East Exit and follow the signs for Yebisu Garden Place. There’s a covered walkway called “Skywalk” that will lead you to Yebisu Garden Place.
- Walk along the Skywalk for about 5-7 minutes until you reach Yebisu Garden Place.
- Once you are in Yebisu Garden Place, look for signs to the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum. The museum is situated within the complex, and it should take only a couple of minutes to reach it.