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Japanese museum puts spotlight on self-taught artists

In Shiga, innovation and a new director's fresh ideas point to a promising, post-pandemic period

A detail of one of the 17 sections that made up Yuichiro Ukai’s long, scroll-like “Monsters” drawing (2021, marker and colored pencil on cardboard), which was on view in the recent exhibition “Genius: The Human Gift for Creating and Living” at the Shiga Museum of Art. (Photo by Edward M. Gomez)

OTSU, Japan -- As Japanese cultural institutions look ahead to a time when they will be free from restrictive, pandemic-related protocols, dreams of packed concert halls, well-attended exhibitions, and theaters and cinemas filled with satisfied customers may be motivating some curators and arts administrators to develop new programs designed to draw in the crowds.

In Otsu, the capital of Japan's Shiga Prefecture, just east of Kyoto, the Shiga Museum of Art (formerly the Shiga Prefectural Museum of Modern Art) appears to be positioning itself for a meaningful, post-pandemic comeback. Last year, Kenjiro Hosaka became the museum's director, bringing with him a notably more contemporary sense of exhibition-making and an inquisitive newcomer's appreciation of the institution's history, collection holdings, and relevance to the community it serves. Hosaka was formerly a curator at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

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