20th Anniversary Exhibition / The Wright Imperial Hotel at 100Frank Lloyd Wright and the WorldClosed

Frank Lloyd Wright and the World

After Feb. 17, Saturday ,time-specific reservations are required for visits on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and from Mar. 1, Friday, onwards.

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Exhibition overview

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is celebrated as one of America’s most famous modern architects, noted for masterworks such as the Edgar J. Kaufmann House (Fallingwater) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. His passion for ukiyo-e and close ties to Japan are also evident in the works he left in Japan, including the Wright Imperial Hotel (now partially relocated and preserved at Museum Meijimura) and Jiyu Gakuen School.
In 2012, a collection of more than 50,000 materials, including his drawings, was transferred from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Ongoing research has been conducted to uncover Wright’s broad vision and intellect from art, architecture and design to writing, landscape, education, construction and urbanism. Jointly curated by Japanese and US teams with Ken Tadashi Oshima (Professor at the University of Washington) and Jennifer Gray (Vice-President and Director of the Taliesin Institute, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation) invited from the United States, this exhibition will highlight Wright’s cutting-edge endeavors through his interaction with diverse cultures bridged by the Imperial Hotel and showcase his drawings among other materials.
The perspective of this global architect resonates with present-day challenges and provides inspiration for the world yet to come.

January 11 Thursday - March 10 Sunday, 2024
* Exhibits shall be partly rotated after February 15.
10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Open until 8 p.m. on February 2, March 1,4,5,6,7,8 and 9.)
Admittance until 30 minutes before closing time.
Wednesdays (Except for March 6)
Adults: ¥1,200
Visitors aged 65 or over with valid documentation: ¥1,100
Students (High school and college): ¥700
Admission is free for children in middle school or younger. Admission is free for disability passbook holders and up to one accompanying adult. Click here to access the discount voucher page.
Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation,The Tokyo Shimbun
Embassy of the United States of America, Architectural Institute of Japan, The Japan Institute of Architects, DOCOMOMO Japan, Archives of Organic Architecture Japan, Minato City Board of Education
Special cooperation
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, Imperial Hotel, Ltd.
Union Foundation For Ergodesign Culture
Exhibit cooperation
Forest Sawmill Risola Limited Liability Partnership
Exhibition design
Kumaya Sato (tandem)

* This exhibition is supported through generous donations from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona.


Online lecture “Frank Lloyd Wright and the World”


Frank Lloyd Wright can be considered one of the first global architects. In featuring Wright’s work leading to the Imperial Hotel, this exhibition traces Wright’s broader constellation of design ideas and legacies beyond. The highlights of the exhibition shall be revealed with reference to the recent scholarship. Lecture in English with consecutive interpretation.

Ken Tadashi Oshima (Guest curator, professor at the University of Washington)

No registration required, free streaming, available on the museum’s website.
Movie available from 10 a.m., Monday, January 15 until 10 a.m., Monday, January 22, 2024

Exhibition Highlights and Features

1.Intricate and elegant drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright mark their first appearance in Japan

Wright, inspired by his encounters with ukiyo-e, moved distinctively away from the conventional standard of Beaux-Art style architectural drawings and developed a new drawing technique that was unique in its compositions, leaving large blank spaces on the paper and magnifying things in the foreground. Wright was said to have been building in his brain even before the actual building took shape, whose drawings sometimes reveal his thoughts more directly than the realized buildings. This exhibition presents you with a variety of beautiful drawings depicting his architectural masterpieces.

2.A century-old model of the Imperial Hotel on display as a 3D-printed replica using scanned data from the original

Wright sent the original model to Goichi Takeda, a professor at Kyoto Imperial University (current Kyoto University), on his return to the U.S. Takeda established a close relationship with Wright and contributed to his acceptance in Japan. The plaster of the original model had deteriorated in the course of one hundred years since it was created, which made it difficult to tour with the exhibition. The organizers requested Kyoto University, where Takeda belonged, to collaborate with Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) to reproduce the high-quality replica of the model using the 3D-printed technology of KYOTO Design Lab at KIT.

3.Experience Wright’s design in a life-sized model of a Usonian House

Wright started designing Usonian Houses in the late 1930s as low-cost, beautiful homes accessible to ordinary American citizens. Through the life-sized model based on the Baird House (Amherst, Massachusetts, 1940), an early example of wooden Usonian Houses, the visitors can experience the spaces leading from its entrance to the living area. This was realized with the cooperation of Mr. Ryosuke Isoya, who was an apprentice at Taliesin, Wright’s testing ground for his architectural education. The material used for the model is Japanese cedar from Izu, sawn by Mr. Isoya himself.

SECTION 1: Modern beginnings: Chicago—Tokyo and the culture of ukiyo-e

Wright started his career as an architect in Chicago, which is the largest commercial city in the Midwest and a symbol of American modernization. It also functioned as a hub connecting American and European cities, while Tokyo was also moving towards a modern city under the rule of Meiji Government. After encountering Japanese culture at the Ho-o-den pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Wright visited Japan for the first time in 1905. In this section, Wright’s early works are presented, such as his architectural drawings in a new style inspired by ukiyo-e, the century-old scale model of Unity Temple—his first public building—and his design of exhibition spaces.

Plate I. Perspective of Winslow House, River Forest, Illinois.
Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe von Frank Lloyd Wright, 1910.
Ernst Wasmuth, publisher, 1901.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art

SECTION 2: Views from the Shining Brow

Wright developed his own theory of organic architecture that responds to different landscapes and climates to enrich people’s lives. His early prairie houses were inspired by prairies and indigenous plants that represented the American Midwest. The “Shining Brow,” or Taliesin in Wright’s ancestral language Welsh, was the name of his home and studio. His encounters with the varying landscape of Japan, with its mountains and waterfalls, as well as its native plants, also stimulated his creativity, later culminating in his masterpiece, Fallingwater. In this section, the Coonley House and the Robie House, both eminent examples of the prairie houses, are presented together with his works in Japan such as the Yamamura House (current Yodoko Guest House) and the Odawara Hotel Project. In addition, Taliesin West, his second settlement built in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, is showcased with its rare footage from the archive.

Cover design for Liberty Magazine. Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers. 1927–28.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. LC-DIG-ppmsca-84873

SECTION 3: Designing progressive educational environments

Wright built his own network with women activists who were striving for the reformation of domestic life and education. His early home and studio in Oak Park, outside Chicago, underwent additions and renovations to experiment in architecture, as well as to respond to the modernization of domestic life and working environments, which as a result included a drafting room and a playroom for early childhood education. Marion Mahony was a talented woman who played an important role in this studio as one of Wright’s early staff. Queene Coonley was his client, who adopted Wright’s architecture to establish Coonley Playhouse based on modern educational theories. During his stay in Japan for designing the Imperial Hotel, Wright also worked on Jiyu Gakuen School under the commission of Motoko Hani. This section displays materials such as the clerestory window used in Coonley Playhouse, and educational documents of Jiyu Gakuen School.

Clerestory window from the Coonley Playhouse, Riverside, Illinois.
c.1912, Toyota Art Museum of Art.

SECTION 4: Imperial Hotel at the global crossroads

In response to the request by Aisaku Hayashi, General Manager, Wright designed the Imperial Hotel (construction period 1913-23) during his stays in Japan that spanned more than three years in total. This mega-project is presented through various materials ranging from drawings, photographs, and furniture, to terra cotta and Oya stone blocks that once constituted parts of the hotel. Furthermore, the drawings of Midway Gardens, a recreational facility in Chicago designed between 1913 and 1914 concurrently with the Imperial Hotel, are exhibited as a comparison. This section lets the visitors explore how Wright’s ideas that had been in gestation for years materialized through this commission of a lifetime, and how they foreshadowed new experiments that would surface later in his other works.

Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan. Scheme 2, 1915, Cross section.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

SECTION 5: Micro/Macro Dynamics of Wright's Building Blocks

This section showcases Wright’s interest in concrete he embraced throughout his life, his search for universal building systems, and the houses that utilized the systems. Wright invented a unit system that was scalable, capable of evolving from small to large structures. His architectural idea of dynamic relationship between the whole and its parts was grounded in his childhood experience of Froebel wooden blocks. He also maintained a keen interest in materials, using local materials at the same time as focusing on plastic qualities of concrete, which culminated in large-scale buildings such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In this exhibition, the visitors are guided through his captivating drawings, ranging from the Millard House (La Miniatura), which used the textile block system, to its application to the design of the whole community, Doheny Ranch Development. In addition, the actual space can be experienced with a life-sized model of the Usonian House, which is a practical example of the unit system.

Doheny Ranch Development, Los Angeles, California. Unbuilt Project, c. 1923. Perspective.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

SECTION 6: Elevating Environments

While Wright’s architectural design is featured by horizontal extensity as in the prairie houses and the Imperial Hotel, he also expressed an interest in vertical extensity of high-rise buildings from the early time of his career. He continued to work on skyscrapers through his career, pioneering novel engineering and structural techniques. For SC Johnson Administration Building, he invented the dendriform columns whose diameter started at the thinnest of 23 centimeters and spread out as it rose to support the ceiling, a design that was initially deemed unrealistic. For the Research Tower of the same complex, he used tap root structure, a concept developed after the basic structure of a tree, which freed the building of load-bearing interior partitions with its curtain wall facilitating ample natural illumination. He believed that integrating urban functions into high-rise buildings could restrain urban sprawl and bring richness to the natural environment and human life. The desk from the Larkin Company Administration Building and a chair from SC Johnson Administration Building are showcased to present the aesthetic of Wright’s office space design.

Chair from the Great Workroom of the SC Johnson Administration Building, c. 1936. Frank Lloyd Wright, designer. Steelcase Corporation, manufacturer.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art

SECTION 7: Wright and Global Cultures

It was his encounters and interactions with diverse cultures that formed Wright. This section focuses on his interactions with creators outside the U.S. as well as his works that incorporated elements from multiple cultures. The Nakoma Country Club project brought together the culture of golf with various indigenous building practices. Masieri Memorial student library and residence project on the Grand Canal in Venice is also introduced, which was later realized in a different form by Carlo Scarpa, an Italian architect who was deeply influenced by Wright. His Plan for Greater Baghdad was a beautiful urban concept that rose from his encounters with Islamic culture. The exhibition concludes with a rendering animation by David Romero from Spain, which brings to life Wright’s Broadacre City, a radical reimagining of living and working across the countryside.

Plan for Greater Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. Unbuilt Project, 1957 | Aerial perspective of the cultural center and university from the north.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)