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Masks Beauty of the Spirits

Masks: Beauty of the Spirits
Masterpieces from the musée du quai Branly

Saturday, April 25, 2015 - Tuesday, June 30
Venue: Main building + Gallery 1, 2, Annex

Dress-Up Discount: Masks
We are offering a 100 yen discount on admission to those who come wearing designs or patterns inspired by masks or faces.

NB: Surgical masks are not included. We ask visitors to refrain from wearing masks inside the exhibition for the safety of the other customers and the art works. Please be aware that security staff will be enforcing this rule, and will ask any visitors wearing masks to remove them.

Musée du quai Branly in Paris, located on the bank of the Seine River and designed by architect Jean Nouvel, has been attracting attention from around the world since it first opened its doors in 2006, and has quickly become established as one of the city‘s cultural highlights. This exhibition draws on the museum’s treasure trove of rare and precious items collected from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas to explore the fascinating world of masks, and is the first large-scale exhibition of the musée du quai Branly collection to take place in Japan.

In putting on masks, people throughout history have come face to face with nature, allowing the invisible powers of gods and the spirits to transform them into performers, actors, storytellers. Masks belong in the liminal space between people, gifted with both physicality and the power for reflection, and the world surrounding them. In donning masks representing animals, gods or spirits, or perhaps characters in a story, and in the dancing and singing that frequently accompanies this act, the wearers become one with their masks.  It is in this transformation of the wearers into hybrid entities, possessing the powers of both their selves and their masks (also therefore standing for otherness), that the doors to a yet-undiscovered realm are flung open. What the diverse masks from all across the world featured in this exhibition have in common is their breathtaking imaginative force, as made evident in the uniqueness of their shape, materials, or scale.

Laying bare the true fascination of this vital form of representation, the exhibition explores the true essence of the mask and what it means to us in today‘s world.  (The exhibition comprises around 100 masks.)

Visiting Information


Saturday, April 25-Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Main building + Gallery 1, Annex


The second and fourth Wednesdays of the month (5/13, 5/27, 6/10, 6/24)

Opening Times:

10:00–18:00 (Last admission: 17:30)


Adults: ¥1200(¥960)
College and vocational students: ¥960(¥760)
Junior high and high school students, and seniors (65 and over): ¥600(¥480)

・Figures in parentheses are group admission fees (for groups of 20 or more).
・Admission is free for elementary and younger students and for middle school students residing or going to schools in Tokyo.
・Admission is free for visitors (and one accompanying person) with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Rehabilitation Certificate, Mental Disability Certificate, or Atomic Bomb Survivor's Certificate.
・Admission is free for seniors (65 and above) on the third Wednesday of each month.
・Pre-purchased tickets are available online from e+:


Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, The Asahi Shimbun


Musée du quai Branly


Ambassade de France / Institut français du Japon


Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.


Air France

With the co-sponsorship of :

Toda Corporation


Other News

  • Exhibition Symposium

    April 25 (Sat) 14:00–16:00
    Venue: Gallery 2, Annex

    “Masks – Beauty of the Spirits”

    Yves Le Fur (Musée du quai Branly, Executive Curator of the Exhibition)

    “Art Museums, or Another World: Can 'Primitive Art' Be Overcome?”

    Yukiya Kawaguchi (Professor of Literature, Rikkyo University)
    *Free of charge to those with museum tickets, no need for reservations
    *The speech will be in Japanese or French, with consecutive interpretation into Japanese.

  • Japanese Gallery Talk

    May 15 (Fri), 29 (Fri) and June 19(Fri) from 15:00 onwards
    Venue: Guided tour of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
    *Free of charge to those with museum tickets, no need for reservations

  • English Gallery Talk

    June 5(Fri) from 15:00 onwards
    Venue: Guided tour of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
    *Free of charge to those with museum tickets, no need for reservations

    More >>>


  • Masks Learning Programme

    There will be a special learning corner in the Welcome Room of the Main Building for the course of the exhibition. As well as a ‘masked photo-booth’, where you can take photographs of yourself and your friends and family wearing masks, we will also have mask-inspired storytelling and graffiti. We hope that this corner will help get everyone’s creative juices flowing, from small children to adults alike.

  • Other Related Events

    We are currently planning other related events. Details will be announced on the museum website nearer the time.

  •  ★

Page top: Kifwebe Mask, Songye  (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Top From Left: Noh Theatre Mask, Okina (Japan) Mid-20th century, Mask (Java, Indonesia) 19th century, Janus Mask, Ibo or Igala (Benue, Nigeria)
Bottom from Left: Ogbodo Enyi Mask, Igbo (Nigeria), Kavat Mask, Baining (Papua New Guinea), Kodiak Mask (Alaska) , Tzotzil Mask (Chiapas, Mexico) <★>
All works except for ★: © musée du quai Branly, photo Sandrine Expilly ★: © musée du quai Branly