On Thursday 23 November, a public holiday, the Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA) celebrated its 32nd anniversary with a special “MIMOCA’S BIRTHDAY” event.
Photo: Tatsuma Omine
Since MIMOCA opened on November 23, 1991, a fun-filled public celebration has been organized on this date every year, as our way of saying thank you for all the day-to-day support we receive.
This year, in the spirit of birthday omotenashi (hospitality), as well as offering free admission to all areas of the museum, we organized the special events described here.
Blessed with fine weather on the day, the anniversary celebrations got off to a warm, sunny start.
Quite a crowd turned up to help MIMOCA celebrate its birthday, including visitors queuing before opening time to view the exhibition, and those who came especially to enjoy the events.
Event guide. Design: Ryuto Miyake
Visitors were greeted by a new AISO automatic music generator playing hits from the '70s and '80s across the whole of the Gate Plaza.
AISO is an automatic background music generator that when switched on plays sounds stored in the system in a continuous, endless stream, according to a unique algorithm.
1. Taco Party
Genichiro Inokuma's wife Fumiko often served tacos at parties, so taking our cue from this we designed an event with a light-hearted dining theme. Nine booths centered around the Gate Plaza entrance to the museum served tacos, drinks and desserts to visitors.
"Tacos are enormously popular in Hawaii right now. Cheap, easy, tasty, and able to be eaten while standing, they're great fun."
From "Brunch at our place: Fumiko Inokuma," Mrs magazine no. 293, November 7, 1981, p. 202.
Nine stalls served tacos on the day: MASACASA TACOS, seasonal table numar + hyakushoumirakuru, neizitu, hetima bunko, KYUFUKU BREWING HONJIMA, kushokudo, TABI BAGEL & SPICE, fujita syouten, and mitosaya botanical distillery + CAN-PANY.
2. Welcome Garden
Herbs and vegetables were grown carefully from seed by Fujita Seed and presented on the day as a little garden in front of the Gate Plaza.
Guests joining in the taco party were able to add an extra element of fun to their snack by picking their own herbs and vegies and adding them to food and beverages.
3. Talk Show
Distiller and mitosaya botanical distillery head Hiroshi Eguchi, who also produced the taco party, conversed with food essayist Sakiko Hirano, who takes a unique observational approach to food and eating, in a special one-off talk in the Museum Hall on the second floor.
Tickets to the event included the one-off set of a cocktail or mocktail from the mitosaya botanical distillery, two of Hirano's (No) Raisin Sandwiches, and a MIMOCA'S BIRTHDAY plate made from powdered wood exclusively for the anniversary.
This fascinating talk covered a range of food-related topics, including ideas around hospitality, and udon sampled by the speakers in Kagawa.
4. Curator Talks: On Inokuma-san and His Paintings
MIMOCA curators guided visitors around the mural Creation Plaza in the Gate Plaza and Inokuma's paintings while discussing the artist and his works, and MIMOCA.
Crowds quickly gathered each time they began to speak, with many people listening intently, or nodding along with great interest.
5. Museum Goods Sale
For the day of the birthday celebration only, a selection of the original merchandise made in accordance with Inokuma's desire that "people have beautiful, pleasurable things around them" was discounted at the museum shop on the first floor.
The Inokuma merchandise range is popular for its practical items such as stationery and handkerchiefs, and many customers were obviously enjoying the chance to stock up.
A paper napkin featuring cat and dog drawings by Inokuma was also designed especially for the anniversary celebrations!
Available in packs of 15 for 660 yen (incl. tax)
These were supplied at the Taco Party and with the special Talk Show gift set, and will continue to be available from the museum shop.
At the Creative Studio on the second floor an instructor from art/design unit Suuji no Tsubuyaki ran a workshop in the morning that had children making masks using numbers. In the afternoon the room became an open studio where people could make any works they liked, again using numbers. Many visitors were eager to try their hand at crafting something interesting.
"Peta-peta Omen" paste-on mask-making in the morning
Children donned their freshly-made masks and filed through the Cascade Plaza and other parts of the museum. Reactions from watching visitors ranged from puzzlement, to obvious delight!
At the "Dondon Jungle" open studio in the afternoon
Visitors linked and overlapped numbers on a big panel to grow a jungle!
This program was also run on the weekends of 25/26 November, and 2/3 and 9/10 December, and the numbers (suuji) rapidly (dondon) increased!
7. Special Cafe Menu
Café MIMOCA on the third floor added a special pudding to their menu as a celebratory treat for the museum's birthday (quantities were limited, so apologies to anyone who unfortunately missed out...)
Café MIMOCA occasionally offers special dishes to coincide with events.
See their Instagram for an up-to-date menu.
Cafe MIMOCA https://www.instagram.com/cafemimoca/
8. Table Setting
Hiroshi Eguchi and Sakiko Hirano who provided the talk also set up tables in the 2F Art Center recreating their own versions of omotenashi.
The music playing at the Gate Plaza on the first floor was based on a list of cassettes that belonged to Genichiro Inokuma. An original AISO program was put together on the theme of "music heard across time from Inokuma's room."
A few comments from some of those who came to the celebration:
"I'd always felt a bit self-conscious about going to an art museum, but spotted the flyer and visited MIMOCA for the first time today. I'm really glad I plucked up the courage." (Local resident)
"Hope I live long enough for next year's celebration!" (Local resident)
"Thanks so much for organizing such a fun event!" (Visitor from elsewhere in Japan)
In 2023 most Covid-19 restrictions and requirements were lifted, and people began to get out and about a lot more. The team here at MIMOCA were excited to finally be able to celebrate the museum's birthday again with everyone.
So many people generously gathering to join the party gave the whole museum a cheerful, colorful vibe.
Genichiro Inokuma wanted people to engage with and be refreshed by new things, in a beautiful space away from the everyday. To make this happen, he agreed to build MIMOCA right in front of Marugame Station, believing that an art museum should be readily accessible to all.
We hope you will read this report and think "That looks like fun!" and consider coming to our next birthday celebration. Or why not just visit on an ordinary day? We'd love to see you.
Roll on MIMOCA's next anniversary celebration in 2024!
Text: Miho Saeki