TAKETOMBO x RISD - OLD HOKURIKU BANK BUILDING
A Historic Preservation & Cultural Education Initiative - Nanto City, Japan
Voices of Inamians
December 31, 2019
The Inami Art Museum is permanently closed.
On November 20 2019, Inami Art Association curated its last exhibition at Inami Art Museum. The show closed on December 22.
And on December 31, the lease of Inami Art Museum ended, marking the end of its 32-year of service as a free museum for the community.
The fate of the 96-year-old historic building remains unknown.
On November 1, Kitanihon Shimbun (North Japan Newspaper) issued an article announcing government’s plan to potentially sell or demolish the Inami Art Museum / ex-Hokuriku Bank building, due to the high maintenance cost in retro-fitting the building to meet current seismic building code requirement.
Aging population and rapid decline in rural population resulted in under-utilized public facilities. Up-keeping a 90-year old building has become a financial burden for the local government. Aging structure that lacks seismic reinforcement also poses life-safety concern.
With the announcement made public, various local groups voiced their disagreement due to its cultural importance to the town. Demolishing the building will pose negative effect on the overall historic district landscape due to its central location on the historic main street Yokamachidori.
Mayor Mikio Tanaka of Nanto City has immediately taken notice of public opinion. In December of 2018, upon Taketombo’s proposal in engaging foreign design study groups to explore potential for adaptive re-use, Mr. Mayor agreed to postpone public bidding to allow concerned groups to conduct due diligence. Nanto City government and relevant local organizations are supporting exploration for innovative and sustainable solutions so that the building could be preserved. The public could also hold proper hearings to collect feedback and reach a consensus as soon as possible.
However, the Government intends to cease ownership of the building by the end of 2019, and Inami Art Association will lose its museum space. If there is no undertaking of the building (retrofitting, renovation, management), demolition is still possible.
11.1.2018North Japan Newspaper article
1.12.2018 North Japan Newspaper article
INAMI ART MUSEUM
(Old Hokuriku Bank Inami Branch, est. 1924)
It is a pre-war building from the mid-1920s, the first reinforced concrete western-style architecture built and owned by old Chu-Etsu Bank (now Hokuriku Bank) Inami Branch. It survived the war, and in 1987, it was restored using public donations and had been converted into Inami Art Museum. It has since been managed by Inami Art Association as a free museum for local artists’ exhibition and writers’ cultural events. In 2004, Nanto City government took over ownership of the building but will cease ownership by the end of 2019.