The purpose of the Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術 館, Aomori Kenritsu Bijutsukan) is to promote the arts of the Northern Tohoku region. It was first built in 2006 by Jun Aoki & Associates after their design was chosen in an international competition held from 1999 to 2000. The competition centered on integrating showing respect for the area’s cultural heritage into the landscape and internal space of the museum. The architecture group suggested digging trenches both vertically and horizontally as to resemble the Sannai Maruyama Jomon Archaeological sites, which is adjacent to the museum. The art featured in the museum are mostly from artists who have a connection to Aomori. The works by Shiko Munakata who was a master of woodblock prints is displayed. However, the museum also has oil paintings from his early years when he was Vincent Van Gogh admirer. Yoshitomo Nara is a pop iconic artist whose subject matter is deceptively simple. His work has gained him a cult following and his 8.5-meter-tall sculpture “Aomori Ken” (Aomori Dog) is one of the iconic artworks of the Aomori Museum of Art.