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Chronology

April 1951 (Showa 26)

The Matsukata Collection comprises paintings and sculptures that the late Kojiro Matsukata, who was president of Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. from 1915 to 1928, collected in Europe. It had belonged to the French government as a property of the Japanese people managed by the Allies under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. However, after the Japanese government signed the treaty, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida made a request with French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman for the collection's return. Negotiations took place between French and Japanese governments for the collection's return.

June 1953 (Showa28) The French embassy sends a diplomatic memorandum to the Japanese foreign minister requiring that the Japanese government to build a French art museum in Tokyo as an essential condition for the collection's return.
July The Japanese foreign minister confirms the French ambassador to take measures for the museum's construction.
December Japan’s Cabinet agrees on settling the "French art museum" (tentative name) project and preparations begin. Japan’s Education Ministry set up a preparatory committee.
May 1954 (Showa 29) The cabinet agrees on the receipt of the former Matsukata collection. Measures for building a new national art museum and settling it in the site of Ueno Park are acknowledged.
March 1955 (Showa 30) Mr. Le Corbusier is named as the architect for the national French art museum (tentative name). Japanese support staff are Mr. Junzo Sakakura, Mr. Kunio Maekawa, and Mr. Takamasa Yoshizaka.
December 1958 (Showa 33) The Matsukata collection's return is authorized under government order by French President Charles de Gaulle.
January 1959 (Showa 34) Official signing on the collection's return between the French and Japanese governments.
March Establishment of the National Museum of Western Art.
April The National Museum of Western Art is officially inaugurated under the Educational Ministry’s institution settlement law.
  The artworks arrive in Yokohama on the Asama Maru vessel of Nippon Yusen shipping company.
June Museum opens to the public.
May 1960 (Showa 35) An exhibition of selected masterpieces from Matsukata Collection commemorating the first anniversary of the opening is held.
July 1964 (Showa 39) Auditorium and administrative office building are completed.
August 1967 (Showa 42) A site of 1,488 square meters is acquired from the nearby Kan'eiji temple for the new wing.
June 1968 (Showa 43) A site of 720 square meters is acquired from Kan'eiji temple, following previous year’s acquisition. A site of 2,208 square meters is prepared for the new wing.
  With a partial modification of the law by the Education Ministry, the National Museum of Western Art is to be an institute under the Cultural Agency.
March 1969 (Showa 44) Ticket office is completed.
June A commemorative ceremony for the 10th anniversary of museum's opening is held. A monument at the entrance of the main building is built to mark the event.
May 1975 (Showa 50) A committee for researching the new wing's construction is established. The fundamental plan is mapped out.
July Basic engineering of the new wing is commissioned to Maekawa Kunio Associates, Architects & Engineers.
May 1979 (Showa 54) New wing is completed.
November A special exhibition, “European Master's Drawings,” is held to celebrate the opening of the new wing.
July 1984 (Showa 59) The National Museum of Western Art becomes a Cultural Agency institution facility, according to an amendment of the Education Ministry’s establishment law.
March 1985 (Showa 60) Renovation work of the ticket office is completed.
June 1989 (Heisei 1) A special exhibition, “August Rodin's ‘The Gates of Hell,'” and commemorative display to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening are held.
  The museum publishes “30 years of the National Museum of Western Art” to commemorate its 30th anniversary.
November The committee of research for maintenance starts deliberations for a mid- and long-term maintenance plan.
January 1992 (Heisei 4) The committee of research for maintenance submits interim report.
October 1993 (Heisei 5) The basic plan of the “21st century gallery (tentative name)” on the basement exhibition space under the forecourt is mapped out.
February 1994 (Heisei 6) The sculptures in the forecourt were removed and preserved for the construction of Special Exhibition Galleries.
April The “Barnes Collection” exhibition hits the 1 million visitor mark.
June Restoration of the main building’s walls is completed.
March 1995 (Heisei 7) The Western Art foundation for promotion of the National Museum of Western Art is established.
August The 21st century planning exploratory (Project 21) committee is established.
September 1996 (Heisei 8) “A message from Seibi (the National Museum of Western Art)” [The 21st vision of the National Museum of Western Art] is published.
November Testing of the museum's Web site gets under way (Becomes official from April 1998 [Heisei 10]).
March 1997 (Heisei 9) Inaugural issue of "Zephyrus," a booklet featuring news from the National Museum of Western Art, is published.
December Special exhibition galleries are completed.
March 1998 (Heisei 10) Construction of seismic isolation devices is completed at the main building.
April Reopening of the main building and new wing
September “Claude Lorrain and the Ideal Landscape” exhibition is held to commemorate the opening of special exhibition galleries.
November The main building is awarded the “Kokyo Kenchiku 100 Sen” (100 selected public buildings) prize sponsored by the former Ministry of Construction.
January 1999 (Heisei 11) “Goya: Artista de su tiempo y artista unico (the time and creativity)” is held to commemorate the opening of the new exhibition galleries.
March “The Gates of Hell” by August Rodin is renovated.
  “Florence and Venice Italian Renaissance Paintings and Sculpture from the State Hermitage Museum” exhibition is held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the National Museum of Western Art.
May Digital Gallery: Research system of super high definition images gets under way (Ends in August 2006.)
July “Rhetorik der Leidenschaft : zur Bildsprache der Kunst im Abendland : Meisterwerke aus der Graphischen Sammlung Albertina und aus der Portraitsammlung der Osterreichschen Nationalbibliothek (Treasury of Images by Aby Warburg: drawings from the collection of Albertina museum and Austrian National Library)” is held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Museum of Western Art.
September “Reve et realite : Collections du Musee d'Orsay” (Dream and reality: Collection from Musee d’Orsay) exhibition is held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Museum of Western Art.
March 2000 (Heisei 12) Renovation completed of the third gallery (prints and drawings room) in the new wing.
Seismic isolation is completed for the sculptures in the forecourt (Rodin's “The Thinker” and “Burghers of Calais”).
August Museum receives 25 millionth visitor since its opening.
March 2001 (Heisei 13) A corner exhibition, “Masterpieces of French drawings from the permanent collection,” is held to commemorate the completion of the renovation of the prints and drawings room.
April Based on the law of Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art, the National Museum of Western Art becomes an art museum under the independent administrative institution's National Museum of Art, according to the establishment of the new organization.
March 2002 (Heisei 14) The Research Center and Library are opened.
  Free admission starts for elementary and junior high school students for the museum’s permanent collection exhibitions.
April Internship program for the National Museum of Western Art is inaugurated.
  Educational programs by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology Cultural Resources Studies are implemented.
June Viewing room and storage for prints and drawings are constructed.
  Safety fences for displayed works in the special exhibition galleries are constructed.
March 2003 (Heisei 15) Works for Rodin’s “Adam and Eve” in the forecourt are completed.
  Barrier-free (auto doors) construction for the inside doors to the exhibition galleries are completed.
January 2004 (Heisei 16) New Year's Holiday is shortened. The museum opens from January 2.
March Seismic isolation work on Bourdelle’s sculpture “Herakles Hpaklhs” in the forecourt is completed.
  Online Public Access Catalog on the museum’s internet system via its home page is completed.
June The National Museum of Western Art Volunteer Program gets under way.
February 2005 (Heisei 17) Barrier-free (auto doors) construction for inside doors to the special exhibition galleries are completed.
November Viewing room for prints and drawings is opened.
February 2006 (Heisei 18) Washrooms for disabled visitors in the main building are renovated.
December Lounge space in the main building is established.
April 2007 (Heisei 19) National Museum of Art’s Campus Members program starts.
June Seiko Epson Corp. and Epson Sales Japan Corp. sign on to support “OPEN museum” project.
July Suica electronic money service is introduced.
The National Museum of Western Art Website is redesigned.
September The Japanese government decides to be listed the Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Lists (State party: Japan) as part of architectural assets that the French government in collaboration with several other involved countries promote for the nomination of “Le Corbusier’s architecture and urban planning” to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Japanese government also decides the submission of tentative letter of World Heritage nomination to the French government. [Japanese assets on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Lists (in Japanese only) UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Lists]
  Resource research, current situation and historical survey are completed. “Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art research report” is published.
  The French government submits the letter of World Heritage nomination (tentative) for Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art to the World Heritage Center, compiling “Le Corbusier’s architecture and urban planning” of seven involved countries.
December Council for Cultural Affairs reports Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to designate the Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art as an important cultural property [Press release (in Japanese only) of Agency for Cultural Affairs (PDF 240KB)
  Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art is designated as an important cultural property (December 21, 2007 Extra No. 291 Ministry of ECSST announcement No. 145)
January 2008 (Heisei 20) The Japanese government officially decides to recommend that the Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art to be on the World Heritage Lists.
  Renovation works of New Wing’s air conditioning facilities are started.
  “Le Corbusier’s architecture and urban planning” recommendation letter signing ceremony held at Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication in Paris.
February The French government, on local time of February 1, officially submits the letter of World Heritage nomination for the Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art to the World Heritage Center, compiling “Le Corbusier’s architecture and urban planning” of seven involving countries.
March Free admission starts for high school students and children aged 18 or younger.
  NMWA collection database launches on NMWA’s Website.
  Taito Ward establishes “Taito committee for promote NMWA to be a World Heritage site”.
June “Ueno area promotion committee for NMWA to be a World Heritage site” is established.
October The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body of UNESCO, conducts field survey here (October 23-24) as a nomination process for World Heritage List.
February 2009 (Heisei 21) New Wing’s air conditioning facilities and other constructions (architectural, electronic facilities, machine and equipment) are completed.
June NMWA marks 50th anniversary. (June 10: commemoration day)
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