Greeting from the Museum Director

Museum Director

The diverse activities of the Setagaya Art Museum derive from a commitment to considering “culture” from a variety of perspectives to add emotional enrichment to people’s daily lives.

To this end, we are dedicated not only to the fundamental mission of an art museum to collect, preserve, and exhibit works of art, but also to the presentation of lectures, workshops, concerts and other performances, as well the operation of a restaurant and a café. In this way we strive to utilize the entire museum’s potential in the service of bringing beauty in many forms to our community.

Since the museum’s founding, it has been a pioneer among museums in Japan in launching initiatives with schools and other institutions. We are particularly concerned with expanding our efforts to address the growing need for multicultural perspectives in the world today.

As a curator, I have worked on numerous projects at the museum since it opened in 1986. I believe that we have continually sought to fulfill our mission as an art museum while serving society in the process, particular in the context of a rapidly changing world.

The museum benefits from the understanding and support of our visitors, the Friends of the Setagaya Art Museum, and our many volunteers. With your help, we hope to expand our activities further while strengthening our community ties and anticipating the changes demanded of us in the future.

We are grateful for your ongoing support as the Setagaya Art Museum forges its own path in the world of art.

Director, Setagaya Art Museum

April 2024

Profiles of
Past Directors

  • OSHIMA Seiji (1924-2006)

    Tenure: 1985-March 2003

    Appointed assistant director of the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts in 1972, he became the museum’s director in 1981. A noted historian of Western art, he wrote extensively about Japonism in particular. He was appointed the first director of the Setagaya Art Museum in 1985, and supervised the preparations for its opening in 1986. For the next 17 years he devoted himself to laying the groundwork for the museum’s development and providing leadership in all aspects of its operations. He retired in March 2003, receiving the title of Director Emeritus.

    Selected publications

    • Degas (Bijutsuka Hyoden Sosho [Artist Biography Series]), Iwasaki Bijutsu-sha, 1970
    • Andrew Kagan, Modern Masters Series: Marc Chagall (Japanese translation), Bijutsu Shuppan-sha, 1990
    • Japonism: Inshoha to ukiyoe no shuhen [Japonism: On the Periphery of Impressionism and Ukiyoe], Bijutsu Koron-sha, 1980 / Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko, 1992
    • Pierre Francastel, Peinture et Société (Japanese translation), Iwasaki Bijutsu-sha, 1968 / 1991 (new edition)
    • Bijutsukan to wa nanika [What Is an Art Museum?], Seieisha, 1995
  • SAKAI Tadayasu (1941-)

    Tenure: April 2004-March 2024

    After joining the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama as a curator in 1964, he served as chief curator, then assistant director, becoming director of the museum in 1992. In addition to planning and carrying out a variety of exhibitions featuring artists from both Japan and abroad, he engaged in extensive research and criticism in the field of modern and contemporary art. In 2004 he was appointed director of the Setagaya Art Museum and served in that position for 20 years until March 2024. During his tenure he actively promoted the expansion of the museum’s activities with a focus on acquisitions and a creative approach to exhibitions.

    Selected publications

    • Kaika no ukiyoe-shi Kiyochika [Kiyochika, Ukiyoe Artist of the Modern Era], Serica Shobo, 1978 / Heibonsha Library, 2008
    • Wakabayashi Isamu, inu ni natta chokokuka [Wakabayashi Isamu, the Sculptor Who Became a Dog], Misuzu Shobo, 2008
    • Dani Karavan—Toi toki no koe wo kiku [Dani Karavan: Hearing Voices of a Distant Time], Michitani, 2012
    • Oboegaki: Bakumatsu/Meiji no bijutsu [Memorandum: Art of the Late-Edo and Meiji Eras], Iwanami Shoten, 2013
    • Geijutsu no umi wo yuku hito: Kaiso no Hijikata Teiichi [The Man Who Took to the Sea of Arts: Recollecting Hijikata Teiichi], Misuzu Shobo, 2016
    • Yokoo Tadanori-san e no tegami [Letters to Mr. Yokoo Tadanori], Mitsumura Tosho Publishing, 2019
    • Yohaku to sho’o: Lee Ufan noto [Margins and Correspondence: Notes on Lee Ufan], Heibonsha, 2023