Special Exhibition

Past Exhibition

Molas and Nature: Textile Art from the Elisabeth Hans Collection

September 8, Saturday, – October 21, Sunday, 2018

In the Republic of Panama, on a narrow isthmus connecting North and South America, live the indigenous Guna people, who maintain a distinctive traditional lifestyle.

The word mola is from the language of the indigenous Guna people and refers to a traditional blouse, worn by Guna women. The rectangular panels on the front and back of these blouses are also called molas. These panels are sewn with multi-layered applique. Molas are found in the collections of many museums, mainly in Europe and North America.

The American collector Elisabeth Hans (1924-1993) lived in Panama from 1962 to 1977, and acquired molas through interactions with the Guna, building one of the world’s foremost mola collections. This collection is known worldwide, and in 2009 we showed some of the molas from this collection in the entrance gallery of the museum, then located in Shibuya. This exhibition was highly popular and was visited by the then-Vice-President of Panama.

This time, we are pleased to present approximately 70 pieces from the Elisabeth Hans Collection with animal and plant motifs, most of which have not been shown in Japan before. The designs are charming and are unique to the Guna and their traditional lifestyle, with vibrant colors, and fine, exquisite workmanship. We hope you will enjoy this exhibition of precious molas, an art form that can rarely be viewed in Japan.

[General admission fees]

General(Adults and university students)
Group(20 or more):50yen

Children and pupils of primary, juniorhigh, and high schools
Group(20 or more):20yen

Visitors over 65 years old ※Please show proof of age when entering.
Group(20 or more):20yen

※ With age certificate, visitors over 65 years old are admitted for half price.
※ With disability certificate, free admission for disabled persons and one accompanying attendant.

  • photo

    Plant mola blouse

  • photo

    Bird mola

Molas from Elisabeth Hans Collection. Photographs by Greg Piper. © Diana Marks.