The Museum for Wood Culture
The Museum for Wood Culture (Japanese: 兵庫県 木の殿堂) is a museum in the Kansai region, Japan, focused on the role of wood and forests in Japanese and international culture; the museum is possibly better known outside Japan for its iconic building designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Tadao Ando.
Inaugurated in 1994, the Museum of Wood Culture is located in the forest of Mikata-gun, in the Hyōgo Prefecture, surrounded by magnificent natural scenery.
The museum was conceived to celebrate the 45th edition of the National Day of Wood, a feast established by Emperor Shōwa (also known as Hirohito) to remember the forests that got lost during World War Two.
Site plan of the museum
The forest of Mikata-gun surrounding the museum
Site and architecture
Like many Japanese museums, the building cannot be separated from the landscape, and this is particularly true for this museum, which celebrates the fruitful relationship between man and nature that forest culture embodies. In this sense, the museum should be considered more a sanctuary than a traditional exhibition venue.
Located in a 415-acre site, the museum designed by Ando, with a total floor area of 29,000 square feet, comprises two constructions, a small concrete-made box-shaped building and a circular timber pavilion (actually based on a 32-sided polygon, a triacontadigon), connected by a 650-foot long raised walkway flanked by the forest.
The concrete building accommodates a small temporary exhibition space, educational spaces, and art workshops focused on forests, trees, and wood carving.
A small exhibition room in the concrete building
The timber pavilion is a monumental structure, with a diameter of 150 feet with a central void 72 feet across, clad with ribs and boards made in local cedarwood; a circular pond is located in the middle of the void.
Exterior views of the timber pavilion and its central void
Model of the pavilion by Myrto Dolapsaki
Between the outer and the inner skins, a spiral ramp leads to an impressive ring-shaped exhibition space dominated by imposing columns, 52 feet high, made in laminated wood, which resemble a coniferous forest. The roof includes an array of radial skylights that softly illuminate the exhibition gallery.
Museum of Wood Culture by Tadao Ando, interior views of the permanent exhibition space
View of the skylights which illuminate the permanent galleries
Permanent exhibition and activities
Housed in the wood pavilion, the permanent exhibition of the museum, which should be conceptually considered as an extension of the surrounding landscape, encompasses three sections.
One section, entitled Life of trees and forest presents four types of forests (temperate coniferous forest, Temperate Deciduous Forest, laurel forest, and tropical rainforest) and models of the traditional wooden architecture typical of those environments.
A second section, Culture was born from Tree and Forest, is dedicated to tools and objects made in wood – including yarn-making devices, musical instruments, ornaments, and vases – from the four types of environments already mentioned and from different countries: Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The third section presents the so-called Thousand-year house (千年家 ), a timber house in the Hyōgo prefecture that is considered to be the oldest in Japan.
The pavilion also accommodates temporary exhibition spaces, a library, a carpenter workshop, and a small multimedia theater.
Views of the permanent exhibition
The Thousand-year House, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
Museum of Wood Culture, the carpenter workshop
Views of the museum in different seasons
The circular pond in the middle of the timber pavilion
Unless differently specified, all images are courtesy of The Museum Of Wood Culture
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