History

Benesse Art Site Naoshima is the collective name for art activities conducted by Benesse Holdings, Inc. and Fukutake Foundation on the islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea.

In addition to collecting art works, Benesse Art Site Naoshima provides artists and architects with opportunities to create and exhibit original works at various locations throughout the islands, thus enabling visitors to experience the very finest modern art. Our fundamental aim is to create special places by situating modern art and architecture within the nature and the unique culture of the Seto Inland Sea, a landscape with a powerful cultural and historical resonance.

Through contact with artworks and with the nature, scenery and people of the Seto Inland Sea region, we seek to inspire visitors to consider the meaning of Benesse - Living well. In continuing our activities, we are attempting to build a relationship of mutual growth between art and the region that provides it with a setting, in order to make a positive contribution to the local community.

In 1985, Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founder of Fukutake Publishing Co., Ltd. (now Benesse Corporation), who nurtured a dream of creating an area where children from around the world could gather on an island in the Seto Inland Sea, came together with Chikatsugu Miyake, then mayor of Naoshima, whose own dream was to develop the south side of Naoshima as a pristine and educational cultural area. These two men formed a mutual agreement to develop Naoshima. Activities commenced with a trial camp for children, operated by employees of Fukutake Publishing.

1989 Naoshima International Camp completed

Naoshima International Camp, designed under the supervision of architect Tadao Ando, opened to the general public as a place to experience the natural landscape of the Setouchi area by staying overnight in yurts from Mongolia. That year, Karel Appel's outdoor sculpture Frog and Cat became the first work of modern art to be permanently installed here.

1992 Benesse House opens

Benesse House opened with hotel guest rooms and spaces for exhibiting modern art. Art activities began at the same time under the name Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum. Numerous planned exhibitions were held from 1992-95.

1994 Out of Bounds exhibition

Artworks were displayed outside the museum building. This was an important step toward subsequent site-specific works.

1995 Benesse House Oval completed

Benesse House Oval, a building designed by Tadao Ando, was completed.

1996 Site-specific works

Benesse House changed its policy to begin commissioning site-specific works. It invited artists to create "only-in-Naoshima works" and put the finished works on permanent display inside and outside Benesse House.

1998 Art House Project

The Art House Project began as an experiment extending the site-specific works to the Honmura district, away from the museum grounds.

2001 Standard exhibition (10th anniversary special)

The Standard exhibition was a program celebrating the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum's 10th anniversary. Houses, facilities and lanes all over the island served as settings for the exhibition.

2004 Start of Benesse Art Site Naoshima

Benesse Art Site Naoshima was adopted as a general name for Benesse's activities on Naoshima, including Benesse House and the Art House Project.

Chichu Art Museum opens

Chichu Art Museum opened in July as a "place to consider nature and people." It offered a new style of an art museum through collaboration between art and architecture.
It has since become a core facility on Naoshima.

2006 Start of Naoshima Standard 2 exhibition

Five years after 2001's Standard, Naoshima Standard 2 ran from October 2006 - April 2007.

2008 Inujima Art Project's Seirensho opens

With the art activities of Naoshima as its cornerstone, the Inujima Art Project opened on the small island of Inujima (Okayama Prefecture) in the Seto Inland Sea. During Phase I, the art museum Seirensho opened in April, preserving and restoring a former copper refinery, a modern industry heritage site. It represented a new way of creating a region with architecture, modern art and the environment.

2009 Chichu Art Museum adds Claude Monet's Water Lilies, Cluster of Grass (1914-17) to its collection

Naoshima Bath "I♥湯" opens for business

The bathing facility, whose name is can be pronounced "I Love You," began business in July as an art facility where visitors can bathe as they view artworks. Managed by the non-profit Town-Naoshima Tourism Association and the Miyanoura District Association, among others, it represented a new stage in the partnership with the community.

2010 Lee Ufan Art Museum opens

This art museum, featuring internationally renowned artist Lee Ufan, opened in June. It became a new landmark for Naoshima.

Inujima "Art House Project" starts

Inujima Art House Project is intended to inspire visitors and residents to become more aware of the beautiful landscape that exists within everyday life and the familiar natural environment that extends beyond the works. This consists of F-Art House, S-Art House, I-Art House and Nakanotani Gazebo.

Christian Boltanski "Les Archives du Cœur" opens

In a pine forest on Teshima facing the Seto Inland Sea, a small museum is built for an installation of Christian Boltanski, a distinguished figure in contemporary art: Les archives du Cœur (Archives of the Heart).

Setouchi International Art Festival held

The Setouchi International Art Festival "100-Day Art and Sea Adventure" is an event in which, guided bycontemporary art, people can experience the healing landscape of the Seto Inland Sea and the lifestyles and culturesof the people of the islands.

Teshima Art Museum opens

Taking shape on Karato Hill, the Teshima Art Project is aimed at restoration of the terraced paddies that used to be on its slopes and establishment of an art museum to stand as a symbol of the island's revival.