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New art gallery to open in Mitsukoshi's flagship department store in Tokyo

This supplied photo shows the new Mitsukoshi Contemporary Gallery which is set to open on March 18 on the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store's art floor. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. said Wednesday that it will open a new modern art gallery at Mitsukoshi's flagship department store in Tokyo in March, as it seeks to revitalize Japan's art market.

    The new Mitsukoshi Contemporary Gallery is set to open on March 18 on the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store's art floor, which is undergoing large-scale renovations for the first time in 30 years.

    The store aims to hold exhibitions 26 times a year in the new gallery, which will occupy around 200 square meters of floor space. An exhibition by Japanese modern artist Katsuhiko Hibino will be held to commemorate the gallery's opening.

    Department stores in Japan have extensively engaged in the exhibition and sales of art pieces, with Mitsukoshi's main store holding its first exhibition over 110 years ago in 1904.

    In 2018, art sales at department stores accounted for 64.4 billion yen ($590 million) of the total 246 billion yen art market in Japan, according to an estimate by an industry group Art Tokyo Association.

    "We hope to expand our fan base by introducing diverse works of art which adhere to the era," said Toshiaki Tachikawa, chief of the art business department at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store.

    The store is aiming to increase its art sales by 10 percent for the business year 2020, as it sets its sights on demand from overseas visitors.

    Interest in art looks set to rise, with business opportunities growing due to the inclusion of art appreciation in corporate training programs, among other initiatives in recent years.

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