The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo is an exemplary museum representing contemporary art and architecture in Asia, offering breathtaking cityscape views. Curating temporary theme-based exhibitions of selected works since 2003, it strives to connect art with public life to infuse creativity and community building. It was the brainchild of Mr Mori Minoru, an urban development visionary who believed that his creative abilities could be employed to enrich people’s lives. The Mori Art Museum serves as a platform for East Asian contemporary artists at the heart of Tokyo city.

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Mori Art Museum_©Gluckman Tang

Mori Art Museum – Cultural Heart of the City

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Inclusion of Art Museum in commercial setup_©Gluckman Tang

The mixed-use development in the Roppongi area of office, residential, hotel, and retail spaces cater to public and commercial use. The Mori Tower is centrally located in this region, thereby harnessing public attention. Knowing that the Roppongi Hills neighborhood has a shortage of usable land and deserves better, Mori Minoru determined to establish the Mori Art Museum atop the central Mori Tower to maximise profit by cultural means instead of commercial, thus testifying to art as economic viability. The last two floors (52 and 53) of the 54-story Mori Tower by Kohn Pederson Fox showcase the Mori Art Centre. The 52nd floor has the Mori Art Centre Gallery (MACG), café, Sun and Moon restaurants, and the Tokyo City View (TCV). The 53rd floor houses the Mori Art Museum and souvenir shops. The Roof has a sky deck showcasing panoramic views of the city. To give the museum a presence of its own, Gluckman Mayner Architects divided it into two components: the interior spaces within the tower and an entry structure at ground level. 

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Mori Art Museum Map_©Samon.Inc

Design of the Mori Art Museum – Structure

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Entrance structure_©Gluckman Tang

Architect Richard Gluckman’s careful consideration of structure, scale, proportion, material, and light is evident in the design of the physical space of the museum and its interiors. He creates a simple yet elegant intervention to signify the presence of a contemporary art centre amidst a contrasting commercial setup.

A gigantic bronze, stainless steel, and marble Mamman Sculpture at the entrance by Louise Bourgeois represents spinning, weaving, nurture, and protection. A gently ascending spiral staircase coiling around the entrance structure enables views of the Japanese garden until visitors reach the entry bridge level. Visitors from any four levels of the entrance – traditional Japanese garden, retail, vehicular drop-off, and the main office plaza come across the glass entry bridge to enter the dedicated Mori Art Museum lobby at the tower’s base.

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Mamman Sculpture_©
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Entrance Pavilion_©

The conical entry pavilion at the base is a free-standing element 30 m high with translucent glass panes, providing a distinctive museum entrance. With a focus on minimalism, the overlapping of glass planes imitates the fish scales. It protects against rain. Glass shingles with the translucent ceramic frit pattern laid on a hoop skirt put forth an innovative ultra-lightweight steel structure characterising modernism. As night approaches, the structure looks like a paper lantern sparkling with life.

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Concrete Funnel_©Gluckman Tang

A concrete funnel at the center of the conical structure contains the passenger elevators and the main vertical supports of the building. High-speed elevators lead visitors from the entry lobby to the 52nd and 53rd floors comprising the Mori Art Museum galleries. They are arranged around a rough sandstone atrium in the core facing inwards. The natural light that illuminates the corridors and galleries makes maneuvering through the spaces effortless and straightforward.

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Corridors_©Gluckman Tang

Design of the Mori Art Museum – Interior Spaces

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Versatile Exhibition Spaces_©FoundJapan

Inside the museum, visitors enjoy a wide expanse of space that allows them to move smoothly, viewing the artwork closely or from a distance as required. High-quality, efficient lighting is used to highlight the exhibits. The 32,000 square feet galleries of the Mori Art Museum focus on contemporary art, both local and international, giving impetus to contemporary art in the Asia Pacific by decoding their cultural backgrounds. These versatile exhibition spaces can be adjusted according to the theme of various temporary exhibits.The museum not only offers exhibition spaces but also learning programmes by providing first hand experiences and narration of stories.According to the director, it follows that the Museum’s activities should not be confined to its own spaces, but penetrate deep into that same community, reaching the people who live, work, and visit there.The glass boxes of the museum galleries on the 53rd-floor float above the Tokyo city view deck, offering a spectacular view of the city.

Tokyo City View_©Gluckman Tang

Engaging an audience ranging from young school children to senior citizens from Tokyo and around the world, the museum serves to be a platform for conducting open discussions on what is important in our culture and society, not only through exhibitions but also through a wide range of learning programs. The Mori Art Museum paves the way for communication among people allowing learning from the cultures and histories of other places and celebrating new, more diverse ways of living. Art becomes a catalyst for value creation. To the community, it serves to be a place for reflection and inspiring their lives through art.


  1. Mori Art Museum Introduction, Web:
  2. Japan Tourist Organization The “Art Triangle Roppongi”: The National Art Center, Tokyo – The Suntory Museum of Art – The Mori Art MuseumWeb:

3.Antonello Marotta,Contemporary Museums, (2010), Azure, 25.197: 78-81 Ricker Library OCLC Databases

4.John Hill , Mori Arts Centre, Available at:

Image References:

1_Gluckman Tang_Mori Art Museum[Photograph] 

2_Inclusion of Art Museum in commercial setup_Gluckman Tang[Photograph] 

3_Mori Art Museum Map_Samon.Inc[Photograph]

4 _Entrance structure_Gluckman Tang[Photograph]



7_Concrete Funnel_Gluckman Tang[Photograph]

8_Corridors_Gluckman Tang[Photograph]

9_Versatile Exhibition Spaces_FoundJapan[Photograph]

10_Tokyo City View_Gluckman Tang[Photograph]


Ishwari is a budding Architect who loves to explore spaces , cultures, and people. With the countless stories they express, she wishes to unfold them through her writings.