The origins of the Ishibashi Foundation's museum can be traced back to the opening of the Bridgestone Gallery (now the Bridgestone Museum of Art) in 1952.
In that year, based on the idea that, "rather than cherish the collection on my own, I want to build a museum so that everyone may view it, thereby contributing to the advancement of culture," founder Shojiro Ishibashi, who built up an extensive collection of Japanese Western-style and European paintings from before the war through the post-war period, opened to the public as the Bridgestone Gallery the second floor of the Bridgestone Building in the Kyobashi district of Tokyo.
In 1956, together with the donation of the Ishibashi Cultural Center to his hometown, Kurume City, Shojiro opened the Ishibashi Art Gallery (later renamed the Ishibashi Museum of Art), a core facility within the center. The Ishibashi Foundation took over the museum’s administration in April 1977 at the request of Kurume City and had been running it for 38 years. But it has been handed over in October 2016 to Kurume City with the arrival of the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Ishibashi Cultural Center, and has reopened with a new name “Kurume City Art Museum”.
The Ishibashi Foundation administers the Bridgestone Museum of Art in accordance with the following principles.
We aim to provide visitors with an environment dedicated to the appreciation of beauty and to exhibit the kinds of artworks that enable them to spend an enriching time inside the museum.
The main focus is on permanent exhibitions that draw on artwork from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection, which has been enriched over many years with the addition of numerous masterpieces, an approach that distinguishes the museum from most others in Japan. Special exhibitions on a particular theme or artist with a connection to the Ishibashi Foundation Collection are also planned from time to time.
The museum undertake a range of activities including art lectures, guided tours, editing and publishing to promote an understanding of the profundity of beauty and its background. The Saturday Lectures, which take place every Saturday at the Bridgestone Museum of Art, have already been held over 2,000 times. There are also art programs aimed at families.
As the groundwork for their other activities, the museum undertake research that delves deeply into the individual artworks that make up the Ishibashi Foundation Collection, including scientific research and investigations into the history of the artworks. The results of this research are reflected in the planning and execution of the permanent and special exhibitions. As well, the condition of the artworks in the collection is checked continually, with every effort made to ensure the latest advice and measures with regard to restoration are taken into account.