This museum opened in 1959. The original collection consisted of 370 European works of art that Kojiro Matsukata, the first president of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, commonly known for KAWASAKI motorcycles, had personally purchased before the Second World War. Of the 3,000 pieces of Western works of art he purchased, 460 were stored in France but were confiscated by the French government right after the Second World War. The Japanese Government started to tackle tough negotiations for their return as soon as the end of the war, and finally they were returned to Japan under the guise of a donation, rather than being returned.
The18 of them were never returned and are now in the possession of the Orsey Museum in Paris.
When the French government requested that a museum suitable for displaying these masterpieces should be built upon their return, this museum was built by the Japanese Government to meet the request. The main building, shown in the photo, was designed by a world-renowned architect Le Corbusier. This building, the only one of his works in Japan, is designated as a National Important Cultural Property as well as a component of the World Cultural Heritage. In 1998, a large-scale seismic isolation retrofit was conducted to insulate the entire building, including the basement, from the ground.
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