Museums throughout Tokyo have been adapting their operations since the outbreak of COVID-19 to prevent the spread of infection, such as by implementing measures to increase sanitation and reduce close contact situations. These measures include the wearing of masks and face shields, having alcohol hand spray located at entrances and high traffic areas, and temperature checks performed on visitors as well as changes to places where people may congregate. Furthermore, places that provide food and beverages have been adapted in terms of seating arrangements and protective screens.
Nezu Museum has been at the forefront of implementing these changes in the world of art. The museum, with its tranquil Japanese garden and stunning modern architecture, houses the private collection of its namesake, the renowned collector, Nezu Kaichirō (1860–1940). The museum has introduced an online booking system for visitors to reserve in advance and limited access to parties of no more than four entry to the facilities. The online booking system also lets visitors sign in by scanning a QR code which allows for a contactless experience. The museum also conducts temperature scans via camera which are visible on a large screen to ensure that it assesses the health of all visitors. The museum has also placed informative materials at the entrance in order to notify and reassure visitors on the measures that are being taken to ensure safety.
In the main hall and throughout the exhibitions, the museum management has removed certain public seating arrangements, such as benches, in order to reduce the likelihood of people congregating in close proximity. On the remaining benches, signs have been installed to encourage social distancing between parties. This allows for the true appreciation of the artwork while following the “three Cs,” namely avoiding closed spaces, crowded places, and close-conversation.
The museum's spectacular verdant garden offers an absolutely stunning and tranquil scene in the middle of the bustle of Tokyo, part of which is serviced by a mostly barrier-free access route which is suited for the elderly and those with physical impairments. There is now alcohol hand spray located at its entrances. The garden is dotted with four tea houses as the tea ceremony was one particular fascination of Kaichirō. There is also a Shinto shrine located on the grounds which further enhances the sense of serenity one feels.
The museum’s café has also undergone changes by reducing the number of seats, changing seating arrangements and introducing Perspex screens to prevent the virus from spreading. Many of the seats in the café face the glass walls which offer spectacular views of the Japanese garden.
In the galleries, walking routes are wide and visitors have ample distance. Benches have been removed or social distancing reserved spaces have been introduced. Museum management is keen to create a welcoming yet safe atmosphere for the appreciation of the many pieces it showcases. The museum’s storied history has culminated in its eclectic mix of sculpture, calligraphy, ceramics, and even paintings from the Chinese Song dynasty. Such a mix is bound to entice both aficionados and layfolk to see the many treasures.
Due to the management’s efforts, the museum has eliminated any sense of crowding and allows for smooth flow of people throughout the facilities and grounds. It is an excellent spot to visit for a tranquil and serene afternoon to appreciate Japanese and East Asian pre-modern art in a safe setting.
(The details in this article are as of December 31, 2020. Please visit Nezu Museum’s website for up-to-date information for your visit. Use of the garden and the café is restricted to those who have been admitted to the museum.)