Musée d’Arts Asiatique, Nice

This museum, small, compact and minimalist, is situated in PhoenixPark on the outskirts of Nice. It is inspired by the two simplest elements of architectural design – the line and the circle.  The water of the small lake laps underneath its shimmering purity.  Ducks float through the striking reflections.  Completed in 1998 and designed by Kenzo Tange, it houses works from China, Japan and Cambodia, both traditional and contemporary.  It is the most uncluttered museum I have yet seen.

Musée d’Arts Asiatique

On entering, even before I was aware of the exhibits, I was riveted by the spiral stairway – a white swirl that scoops your gaze to the first floor.

The spiral staircase

The spiral staircase

 The exhibits themselves rest on glass sheets  –  a charming ceramic horse;  a traditional kimono; two styled cows communing;  a tapestry in dancing primary colours.

Ceramic Horse from Japan

Upstairs there is a current exhibition called “The Routes of Buddha”, tracing the growth of Buddhism across Asia on large maps.  On the circular wall there are striking photographs of landscapes pinpointed on the maps.  On the inner circle there are several Buddha figures from India, Cambodia and Japan, chosen, I imagine, to illustrate how great the variation on this theme can be.

Jade disc 5000 years old

In a side room there was a glass case with a perfect jade disk larger than a plate with a perfect hole in its centre.  It had a delicate yellow-green hue and it is 5000 years old.   What does this tell us about the aesthetic sensibilities of the East?  This object has become the icon of the museum on its poster.

Two cows communing

 The tall, ceiling-to-floor windows filled the spaces with light.  Because the museum is built over the lake, I was constantly aware of water.   The silence of the place – there were almost no other visitors – made an experience somewhere between Taoism and Zen. The memory burgeons.

 © Will v.d.Walt

Vendredi  1 Fevrier 2013

Images: Will


2 Responses to Musée d’Arts Asiatique, Nice

  1. Your usual high standard Will-keep it up

  2. This museum gives the impression of peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

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