What do red polka dots, five-meter-tall flowers and a spotted squash have in common?
Glad you asked!
They are all among the many things you’ll see at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, an easy ten minute walk straight up Agata-no-Mori-dori from Matsumoto Station’s main entrance.
The MCMA used to have a simple opaque glass façade that allowed it to hide behind the trees standing thick and tall along the sidewalk. Not anymore! Thanks largely to the work of world-renowned artist and Matsumoto native Yayoi Kusama, the outside of the Museum is covered with dozens of red dots that, like them or not, are hard to ignore – and even harder to miss!
Chances are good that, walking around downtown Matsumoto, you’ll see a city bus or two decorated with these same red spots. These were also inspired by Ms. Kusama who, you may not be surprised to hear, keeps her hair dyed fire engine red.
Also catching one’s eye through the trees is a stone slab garden from which a half dozen massive and colorful flowers have sprouted. Bending and twisting in frozen artistic suspense, these flowers are like nothing you’ve ever seen outside of a dream or an acid trip. This garden is enough to make the trip up the street well worth it.
But since you’re here you might as well go inside and take in a few of the exhibits. There are seasonal and temporary displays that you can enjoy completely free of charge. Other exhibits, including some of Ms. Kusama’s most famous pieces of work, are in the areas for which you’ll need a ticket. This may be the only chance you’ll ever have to see a six-foot spotted squash, so consider laying out the 410 yen.
Before you head back down Agata-no-Mori-dori check out the courtyard past the vending machines (they’re covered in polka dots, you can’t miss them), pop in the café, take a gander through the gift shop, and see if there’s anything going on in the workshop. You may stumble upon a chance to create your own special work of art.
The Museum is open from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Check out their official website for more info.