The Kyoto National Museum or Kyoto Kokuritsu Kakubutsukan to the locals, is one of the art museums in Japan that has been imperially mandated. Found in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, the museum focuses on collections of Asian and pre-modern Japanese art. The art museum’s construction was first proposed, together with the Imperial Museum of Nara (now Nara National Museum) and Imperial Museum of Tokyo (now Tokyo National Museum), in 1889. It finally opened in 1897, with its name going through a series of changes, from being the Imperial Household Museum of Kyoto to Imperial Gift Museum of Kyoto. Its legal name was finally settled only in 1952.
The layout of Kyoto National Museum is comprised of a number of buildings with the Special/Main Exhibition Hall as the most popular. Katayama Tokuma did its design in the year 1895 while the New Exhibition Hall’s design was created by Morita Keiichi in 1966. The regular exhibitions of the museum are displayed only in The Collections Hall while special exhibits are housed in the Special Exhibition Hall. Some parts of the buildings were considered as Important Cultural Properties of Japan like its Main Gate, the Main Exhibition Hall, and the Ticket Area.
As for its collections, the museum grounds of Kyoto National Museum are divided into three parts namely the Fine Arts section with paintings, calligraphy, and sculptures; the Handicrafts section with all the fabrics, lacquer wares, metal works, and potteries; and the Archaeology section with all the collections of items with archaeological and historical traces.
All in all, the museum possesses more than 12,000 art items with only 6,000 on actual display. Another pride of this art museum is their expanse collection of 200,000 photographic color transparencies and negatives. In the Fine arts section only, more than 230 items are tagged as Important Cultural Properties and National Treasures. The museum is also said to have the largest collection of Heian period items and also houses an exceptional collection of ancient Japanese and Chinese sutras.