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Diverse animal forms created from the human imagination

The indigenous tribes of the Amazon and Xingu River basins in northern Brazil carve benches from single pieces of wood. These unique sculptural works adopt both animal and functional forms and are covered in distinctive geometric patterns. Benches were cultural and social symbols within indigenous communities, closely connected to tribes’ ways of life, traditions, and distinct mythologies, and functioned as objects for everyday use or carrying ceremonial significance on special occasions such as shaman ceremonies or the celebration of weddings. Today, tribal artists unconstrained by function or tradition are creating even more diverse and free-ranging expressions, as indigenous people absorb influences from the outside world and seek their own identity in their view of nature.

This exhibition presents around 90 benches of the Brazilian indigenous peoples from the BEĨ Collection, exploring the rich expressions of human imagination that these forms and their unique sensibility represent.

About the BEĨ Collection

BEI is a publishing company focusing on art and architecture based in São Paolo, Brazil. The company name BEĨ means “a little further” in an indigenous Brazilian language, reflecting the company’s principles of striving to challenge and overcome limitations. As part of its publishing work, BEĨ began collecting benches produced by indigenous peoples more than 15 years ago. They recognize the indigenous works not as simple artifacts, but as contemporary artistic expressions unique to Brazil, and seek to appraise and spread awareness of their sculptural beauty.

This exhibition is the first of its kind worldwide and features works that have been carefully selected from the company’s collection of nearly 300 pieces.

Summer night museum (evening opening hours)

From 7/20~8/31, the museum is open every Friday until 9:00 PM. Admission is free for students after 5:00 PM, while regular visitors may enjoy the reduced group price of ¥960.

Visiting information


Benches of the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples: Human Imagination and Wildlife


Saturday, June 30 – Monday, Septmber 17


Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
5-21-9, Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel +81(0)3 3443 0201


Second and fourth Wednesday (7/11,25,8/8,22,9/12)


10:00–18:00 (Last admission 17:30)
*Open until 9:00 PM every Friday night between 7/20~8/31 (last entry at 8:30 PM)


  General Advance/Group
Adults General¥1,200 Advance/Group¥960
College and vocational students General¥960 Advance/Group¥760
Junior high and high school students General¥600 Advance/Group¥480
Senior(65 and over) General¥600 Advance/Group¥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+:


Organized by

Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Nikkei Inc.

With the special cooperation of

BEĨ collection which is sponsored by CBMM – Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineracao

Supported by

Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo

With the cooperation of

Takeo Co., Ltd.

With the co-sponsorship of

Toda Corporation


Exhibition Highlights

  • A collection of benches crafted by Brazilian indigenous tribes on display in Japan for the first time
    The BEI collection includes a diverse array of indigenous Brazilian sculpture and benches. As of 2018, the collection consists of more than 300 benches from 27 tribes. This exhibition marks the first time these works have been displayed outside of Brazil and features carefully chosen benches representing 17 tribes, with a focus on the animal forms of the Mehinaku people.
  • Venue design by architect Toyo Ito
    The exhibition layout has been designed by world-renowned architect Toyo Ito, known for works including Minna no Mori Gifu Media Cosmos (2015) and the National Taichung Theater (2016, Taiwan).

    Message from Mr.Toyo Ito
    The benches carved by Brazilian indigenous peoples from a single piece of wood embody a powerful energy. What type of exhibition can communicate their appeal? The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum is made up of the contrasting spaces of the former residence of Prince Asaka (main building) and the annex building. The main building is divided into numerous highly decorated rooms where the benches are elevated atop simple exhibition platforms. In the single large white room of the annex, visitors can crouch down and examine numerous benches that have been arranged on the floor. Enjoy the interplay of these indigenous stools and the exhibition space.

    Architect. Born in 1941, graduated from the University of Tokyo Department of Architecture in 1965. Major works include Sendai Mediatheque and the Tama Art University Library (Hachioji). Ito has won numerous awards including the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Biennale and the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Top from left : Uruhu / MEHINAKU/ Jaguar, Unknown / KUIKURO/ Monkey, Kanari / KUIKURO / Curassow, Aparitá / MEHINAKU/ Harpy eagle
Bottom:Unknown / WAIWAI / Geometric pattern, Unknown / KARAJÁ / Geometric pattern, Mawaia / MEHINAKU / Monkey, Unknown / KAYABI / Tapir
All works except for ⓒ BEĨ collection / by Rafael Costa