The Hakone Open Air Museum is truly a world-class open-air gallery. Covering over 753,000 sq ft (!) of beautiful lawns and gardens, the collection includes some of the world’s most interesting modern sculptures and works of art. Among our favorite artworks/exhibitions include the Picasso Hall (over 300 of Picasso’s works!), Gabriel Loire’s “Symphonic Sculpture”, Henry Moore’s sculptures, “Miss Black Power”, Sculptures of Carl Milles, Peter Pearce’s “Curved Space-Diamond” structure, the 144 figures of “Intersecting Space”, “Hercules the Archer”, and “Woods of Net” by Tezuka Architects. Do not miss the “Outdoor Foot Bath” where you can soak your tired feet in its warm mineral waters scented with floating oranges and lemons and happily massage your feet on the raised river pebbles!
The Picasso Exhibition Hall: The Most Famous Exhibition at Hakone Open Air Museum
The most noteworthy of all the indoor art displays is the collection of Pablo Picasso’s creations on site. Inside, you will find more than 300 of Picasso’s works (!) ranging from sculptures, ceramics, prints, paintings, and oil pieces. The display is set in sections of themes such as early life, death, sexuality, and even bullfighting, one of Picasso’s passions. This indoor exhibit does not allow any photography or videos inside, so although we cannot share examples of this incredible display, we have the memory embedded in our brains to treasure for a lifetime!
Miss Black Power by Niki de Saint Phalle
As one of the few female monumental sculptors, French-American artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, demonstrates her mastery over the field with her towering depiction of strength: “Miss Black Power.” Introduced in 1965 as part of her series called “Nanas,” this brightly-colored sculpture exudes confidence with a powerful stance and a fashionable outfit. The sight of “Miss Black Power” up close is truly one to behold!
Hand of God by Carl Milles
It is understandable the idea for the sculpture, “Hand of God,” came to artist Carl Milles in a dream. The ethereal image of a small, naked man balancing on two fingers of a giant hand is equally surreal and emotional. From 1949 to 1953, Milles worked to perfect this piece honoring his good friend, Swedish inventor, Carl Edvard Johansson. Milles famously credited the sentiment behind the sculpture to his phrase: “look around the world and then make something good out of your life.”
Curved Space-Diamond by Peter Pearce
Since 1978, the Open Air Museum has housed Peter Pearce’s “Curved Space-Diamond” structure. This interactive climbing sculpture is based on the appearance of a diamond molecule that has been enlarged 8 billion times! Open for kids to play in, its whimsical, bubble-like structure is just as entertaining to explore as it is to look at.
Hercules, the Archer by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle
Created in 1909 by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, we consider this sculpture of Hercules a “must-see” while at Hakone Open Air Museum! From 1893 to 1908, Bourdelle was an assistant to Rodin and was able to master this craft with an incomparable teacher. As he began to come into his own, Hercules was one of the first pieces the artist independently created. Although similar to Rodin’s works, Bourdelle focused on a more “modern” approach with his pieces. We love the attention to detail in the muscles, the legs pushing against the stone and the strength in drawing the arrow, it’s impossible not to feel the exertion of power displayed here!
Woods of Net by Tezuka Architects
Tezuka Architects (founded by architect Takaharu Tezuka) has merged the line between art and architecture with this massive and impressive piece found at Hakone Open Air Museum. The “Woods of Net” is impressive for many reasons, beginning with the exterior design. The wooden beams are all linked together in such a way that not a single piece of metal was used to make it stand(!). The technique was inspired by the thousand year-old Japanese temple designs found in Nara and Kyoto. Kayla in our office says the architecture of the wood reminds her of the “Lincoln Logs” she used to play with as a child – this is a fun and interactive design brought to life!
The interior of the structure is just as impressive as the exterior, as you will find the “Knitted Wonder Space 2” by artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam. The vibrant and colorful piece was knitted by hand and took Toshiko over 1,400 pounds of braided nylon, three months to dye the material, and over a year crocheting it into the netting we see today. It is welcome for children to take full advantage of the structure to enjoy the fun of climbing, jumping, and rolling around in the material. Enjoy!
Outdoor Foot Bath
The truly most remarkable feature at Hakone Open Air Museum is the outdoor foot bath(!). Continuing the Japanese tradition of onsen hot springs, the natural foot bath is the perfect spot for reflection and total relaxation. The flowing mineral water is scented with floating lemons and oranges that will open up your senses and provide a fresh and relaxing experience. The raised river is also full of pebbles that you are welcome to massage your feet on, a fabulous feature after a full day of walking. Towels are available locally for purchase and can also be used as a keepsake for you to bring home to always remember your time at Hakone Air Museum!!!