Not far from the Phoenix Park in Nice, on a pond, is the Museum of Asian Art, recognized as the most modern museum dedicated to the culture of Asia. The unique structure was designed by the famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, presenting to the public a glass building with elements of white marble and steel. It is due to the marble walls and glass panels inside the room that the play of light is created and at the same time there is a feeling of weightlessness of the structure outside.
For most visitors to the Museum of Asian Art, it seems attractive not only to get acquainted with static exhibits, but also to regularly organize classic Japanese tea ceremonies on the basis of the institution, in which everyone can take part. In addition, a special pavilion of the museum invites visitors to become part of the presentation of the Chinese tea tradition. Unfortunately, the explanations are given only in French.
The history of the museum.
The initiator of the Museum of Asian Art was the Mayor of Nice, Jacques Madsen. Being a strong, independent and impulsive man, he was respected by the residents of the city and elected as mayor five times in a row, the majority of citizens remember him as a person who “wrote” a number of controversial, but bright pages in the history of the city.
In the 1990s, Jacques Madsen was greatly influenced by the work of French sculptor Pierre-Yves Tremois, who regularly exhibited in Japan. It was then that the mayor decided to create a museum in Nice that tells about the art of Japan, Cambodia, China and India. The famous architect Kenzo Tange was invited to the city to work on the project of the museum.
The architectural idea of the creator.
Towering on the lake in the middle of the city’s Phoenix Park, the Asian Art Museum, opened in 1998, seems to float above the water. The place perfectly fits into the surrounding space, being in a truly oriental harmony with nature. The author of this creation once said that in his view, this structure acted as a snow-white pearl against the background of the azure Mediterranean Sea.
Quite unusual, light, elegant and bright building itself has become a real work of Oriental art, despite all its simplicity. When creating it, the architect used a couple of basic geometric shapes that have a sacred meaning in the Japanese tradition: the circle symbolizes the sky, and the square is the personification of the earth.
The round marble rotunda is surrounded by four white marble cubes, the entire structure is crowned by a glass pyramid. The building has something in common with the patterns of the Tibetan mandala, and each cube-shaped pavilion has become a symbol of four eastern cultures — Chinese, Indian, Cambodian and Japanese. The central rotunda evokes thoughts of Buddhist teachings.
The presented expositions.
The museum’s collection is quite modest, the exhibition presents items related to various Eastern cultures and religions. To date, here you can admire about two hundred exhibits that have undeniable historical value. The permanent exhibition of the museum contains a number of figurines, jewelry, clothing and household items, tells the history and traditions of Buddhism. Temporary exhibitions are also held here on a regular basis. The underground level offers a collection of applied art objects — various fabrics, furniture and jewelry, in addition, there is a multimedia center.
The collections available in the museum significantly push the boundaries of the usual idea of an ethnographic or art museum. If you pay attention, each exhibition here is a kind of live mini-performance that introduces the guests of the institution to the rituals and traditions of Asian peoples and tribes, as well as demonstrates the modern achievements of Asian culture. Thanks to the original methods of placing exhibits and the latest technical techniques, visitors have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of individual art objects.
So, special attention of the public here is usually focused on a paired statue of white-tailed deer of the XVII–XVIII centuries from Central Tibet, covered with gold and became symbols of the first sermon of the Buddha, a lacquered figure of Amida Nerai frozen in meditation and an amazing funeral statuette of a kneeling woman.
In the museum there is also a place for a Japanese wooden lacquered vessel for making tea of the late XV — early XVI century, a Japanese ceramic horse of the VI century and an Indian cloth of the XVIII century with a hand-painted image of the young god Krishna. A number of Japanese lacquer miniatures demonstrate a special elegance among the presented exhibits.
The exhibitions are complemented by tea ceremonies that take place in the museum on Sundays, various performances and displays of traditional technologies. Here you can taste elite varieties of Chinese, Japanese tea, as well as tea from Northern India. Guests of the institution can attend calligraphy classes or ikebana, thus touching the culture of Asia, attend cultural congresses, festivals and master classes. Judging by the reviews of the guests who visited the museum, its content does not leave anyone indifferent.
How to get to the Museum of Asian Art in Nice.
From the center of Nice to the place go through Voie Pierre Mathis/Voie Rapide, this route will take no more than 13 minutes with unloaded roads.
Buses in the city run from 5: 00 to 21: 00, later 3 urban and 6 intercity routes are taken to transport passengers. You can find out about the timetable at any bus stop, and the official website of the city transport will also inform you about the arrival time of the bus.
Most of the stops are made on demand, for this reason, to get on the bus, you need to raise your hand, otherwise it will pass by. To exit the cabin, press the button.