Inami Woodcarving Museum

Inami Woodcarving Museum in Inami, Japan by Peter Salter

The following text and images are taken from 4+1 PETER SALTER: Building Projects, published by Black Dog Publishing, revisiting a previous feature on this site, the Inami Woodcarving Museum by Peter Salter.

The Museum primarily accommodates fretted transom screens and religious sculptural pieces. At times there are temporary exhibitions of wood sculpture, associated with the annual International Sculpture Exhibition held in Inami. The permanent exhibits are devotional objects that were originally placed within a domestic context. In the Museum these artifacts are relocated in a similar relationship to the viewer and their surroundings through a series of small-scale enclosures within the larger building fabric. The Museum attempts to identify the objects with their surroundings, rather than exhibit them in a neutral space.

The Museum is seen as part of a complex of buildings arranged around an arcaded precinct. Its scale is borrowed from the nearby temple. The design is understood as a set of territories, which range in scale, material and indigenous techniques of construction, from the crudest and large-scale spatial enclosure to the finest "furniture-scale" room. Each space provides a point of emphasis in a sequence of rooms arranged around a quiet courtyard.

The Museum encourages a promenade through rooms with different spatial emphasis. Each space attempts to reflect the sequence of movements made by the viewer in relation to the exhibits. The lighting levels are generally low, similar to the interior of a temple. The artifacts are mostly seen with ambient light, occasionally with concentrated sunlight channeled through light snorkels, sometimes in silhouette - an attempt to reflect the quality of light outside. The courtyards provide a further space for temporary exhibitions, emphasizing the relationship between outside room and inside space. The Museum takes part in the process of wood-carving, offering glimpses of the timber stores located near the gallery, displaying the tools and fretted pieces of the wood-carver. Further along the promenade is a place for wood-carvers to demonstrate work in progress. Two eight-mat Tatami Rooms in the Small Gallery are reconstructed from an original, traditional Minka house.