A foundation was established under the initiative of Yoshio Hattori, who was then the president of Yamagata Shimbun (newspaper publishing company) and Yamagata Broadcasting Co.,Ltd. As a result of the efforts of this foundation, the Yamagata Museum of Art was opened in August 1964. The construction of an art museum in Yamagata had long been the strong desire of the prefecture since the founding of the Yamagata Prefectural Artists' Association immediately after World War II. After various examinations of the museum's site and organization, the decision was made to operate the museum through a private sector-led foundation with the full support of the prefecture and city. Under the concept of "prefectural citizens' art museum housing a wider range of works than public museums," the Yamagata Museum of Art was opened in 1964.
T he museum's annex was opened in 1968, and the construction of a new building began in june 1984 as a 20th anniversary project. The new three-story building, reflecting both a modern style and regional characteristics, as well as the appearance of "Taso-minka"(a multiple layer residence), was opened in August 10 of the following year. The annex was also renovated in October 1986, and the Yamagata Museum of Art took its present form.
Since its opening, the Yamagata Museum of Art has striv en to enhance its collection and permanent collection through surveys, research, and the collection of works supported by three pillars including Japan and Oriental art, regional art, and French art.
The Yamagata Museum of Art also holds special exhibitions, touring exhibitions, and group exhibitions in various fields. Although the museum is operated through a foundation, the museum conducts open art-related activities as a means to contribute to the life-long education of prefectural residents and the promotion of art culture in Yamagata Prefectu re.