Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum

The Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum in Naha’s Omoromachi district night time. The building is designed to reflect a concept of ancient Okinawa “gusuku” castles.

The former Okinawa Prefectural Museum opened in Shuri, Naha City in 1972. In 2006 it was closed and moved to a new building in its current location in the Omoromachi district in Naha. The new museum opened in 2007, and includes an art museum within the same premises that is the first prefectural art museum in Okinawa.

Throughout its 40-year history, the old museum in Shuri increased its collection to 80,000 items, cramping the museum and overloading the capacity of the museum’s storage space. The museum’s exterior was designed as a castle from the Ryukyu Era. The idea to build a new museum began in the 1960s and finally, in 1991 the basic concept of the new museum was established. Two years later exhibition and construction committees were formed, and design proposals were solicited, and the exterior design was decided to remain the castle image of the Ryukyu Era.

After jumping through many hoops for about 50 years, the new museum was finally completed and ready for the public.

The museum has roughly 24,000 square meters of floor space on its four above-ground and one basement level. By the entrance of the museum, in its front garden, there are two replicas of traditional Okinawan buildings. One is a thatched-roof storehouse and the other a traditional red-tile roof Okinawan house (Aka-gawara-ya).

The museum consists of two sections; the Natural History section, introducing the geological origins of the Ryukyu Islands and its natural environment through short films. The second is the Art Museum which includes space for special exhibitions along with galleries displaying art objects from the museum’s collection.

Apart from the main exhibitions halls, there is a café, museum shop and auditorium. Plus the museum includes an extensive library and a “Hands-on Experience Room” where visitors can experience Okinawa’s natural environment and folk culture.

The museum also hosts a variety of events, including live performances, lectures and films.