1999 – Gallery of Horyuji Treasures – Yoshio Taniguchi

A movement to abolish Buddhism, which began in the Edo period, culminated in the policiy of the early Meiji government to make Shinto the state religion. Many Buddhist temples were destroyed. The ancient temple of Horyuji in Nara presented the imperial house with a collection of precious objects in 1878 to protect itself from a similar fate. These treasures, which include both Buddhist and secular items, subsequently became government property.

In 1999 an elegant new building has been constructed to display the treasures to the general public while assuring their safekeeping. The museum has been conceived as a box within a box within a box. The innermost space, enclosed in thick stone walls, accommodates the galleries. The public areas are arranged around this space. Finally, a hood-like steel canopy is arranged in front, suggesting the outermost layer of space.

The facade is nearky symmetrical, belying an asymmetrical floor plan. The lobby and lounge space are brithly lit and in sharp contrast to the galleries, which have very subdued lighting. The transition is rather abrupt, and it takes some time for the eyes to adjust. As in other museums by Yoshio Taniguchi, the galleries themselves are containers that take on life only when the items on display have been installed. The main architectural interest lies in the circulation spaces, which offer unexpected points of view and contrasts between enclosed and open areas.

Name: Gallery of Horyuji Treasures│
Type: Museum│Architect: Yoshio Taniguchi│Completed: 1999



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