Mitsubishi Public Affairs Committee
The Mitsubishi Ichigokan, built in 1894, was the very first office building to rise out of the old military parade ground that would become Tokyo’s Marunouchi district, heartland of the Mitsubishi Group and one of Japan’s key financial hubs. Torn down in 1968 during the post-war economic boom, this historical landmark is now being resurrected by Mitsubishi Estate, and will open
its doors to the public in the spring of 2010 as the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum.

Akiya Takahashi
, Director,
Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo

What is the basic concept behind the museum?
Mitsubishi Ichigokan was built in 1894, at the height of the period of intense modernization known as the Meiji Restoration. The growth and development of Mitsubishi was inextricably linked to Japan’s development as a modern state. The close of the 19th century and turn of the 20th century was a time when the growth paths of post-Edo Tokyo, modern Japan and Mitsubishi coincided. Reflecting this journey through time, the museum will display modern art from the middle of the 18th century to the 20th century, which is a product of the relationship between city and human beings.
  Which will be the key characteristics of the new museum?
A major characteristic will be the use of a historic building as a museum—among the high-rise buildings of Marunouchi, the new museum’s Victorian-era English architecture will be quite striking. Also, it is highly unusual in Japan for a museum to occupy a separate building in the center of a major city. Inside, the historical interior will blend naturally with the art pieces from past eras, and the atmosphere should provide an enjoyable contrast for displays of contemporary art as well. We expect to draw visitors not only from among the more than 200,000 people who work in the Marunouchi area, but also from all over Tokyo and from among tourists visiting Tokyo from other parts of Japan and overseas.
Please tell us about the exhibitions you are planning.
We are considering exhibitions that will stimulate visitors by showing them a world of art where the fundamental concepts of creativity, freedom and expression are completely different from those of the business world, and that will feed back into their lives and ways of thinking over time. We anticipate that the confluence of art and practical business will also provide the opportunity for cross-learning between the two worlds.
      For the museum opening in early 2010, we are planning a “Manet and Modern Paris” exhibition (provisional name), which I believe will be symbolic for a centrally located city museum. With exhibitions such as these, I think that we will be able to create a distinctive new style of art museum.