The origins of the Ishibashi Foundation's museums can be traced back to the opening of the Bridgestone Gallery (now the Bridgestone Museum of Art) in 1952.
Ishibashi Shojiro, who built up an extensive collection of European and Japanese Western-style paintings from the pre-war through the post-war period, was known to have said, "Rather than cherish the collection on my own, I want to build a museum so that everyone may view it, thereby contributing to the advancement of culture." After visiting a number of art museums in the United States during his travels there after the war, Shojiro's determination to build an art museum grew stronger. In 1952 he opened the Bridgestone Gallery on the second floor of the newly built Bridgestone Building in the Kyobashi district of Tokyo.
This was just seven years after the end of the war, when Japan was still in the midst of recovery and under occupation. People yearned for art of a high standard, yet there were no art museums in Tokyo exhibiting modern European or modern Japanese Western-style paintings. Against this backdrop, the Bridgestone Gallery, which put on view to the public in the heart of the city masterpieces of European and Japanese Western-style painting, had a big impact. For example, the painter and Chairman of the Japan Artists Association, Yasui Sotaro, sent a letter of appreciation to Shojiro in which he stated, "It is clear from the number of people who gather silently in the museum that your kindness has given great comfort and sustenance not only to artists but to a general public thirsty for real art."*1 As well, writing in a newspaper of the time, the novelist Mushanokoji Saneatsu commented, "The opening this year in Kyobashi of the Bridgestone Gallery has brought great pleasure to art lovers like myself... Since we were young we have dreamed of having a small art museum like this, and the reality is indeed splendid."*2
One of the objectives in establishing the Ishibashi Foundation in 1956 was to ensure the development in perpetuity of this art museum.
Also in 1956, Shojiro opened the Ishibashi Art Gallery (now the Ishibashi Museum of Art), a core facility within the Ishibashi Cultural Center, which he donated to his hometown, Kurume. The Ishibashi Foundation cooperated in operating the museum ever since its opening, assumed full administration in 1977 at the request of the City of Kurume. In September 2016, the administration was handed over to the city and started as the Kurume City Art Museum in October the same year.
At both of the museums operated by the Ishibashi Foundation, it not only maintains an environment dedicated to the appreciation of beauty, but also undertakes activities aimed at promoting an understanding of the profundity of beauty and its background through art lectures and publishing.

*1: A Certificate of Appreciation sent by the JAPAN ARTISTS ASSOCIATION, INC (January 30, 1952) *2: “An eye-pleasing sight on New Year’s Day ― Seeing the Bridgestone Gallery” by Mushanokoji Saneatsu (SANKEI SHIMBUN, January 23, 1952)