Visiting the Noguchi Museum in Queens

February 27, 2012 MuseumChick

After a winter stroll through the Socrates Sculpture Park, I walked one block south to The Noguchi Museum. This small duplex museum housed in a 1920s industrial building has an unrefined and modern feel with brick walls, cement floors, and exposed beamed ceilings- a sharp contrast to Noguchi’s smoothly polished and brightly colored pieces. With ample walking space in between pieces, even on this semi-crowded weekend I could stroll the museum unrushed and without distraction. This ideal situation for viewing art has been hard to find in NYC museums for me lately.

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was a Japanese-American artist. Although born in Los Angeles, Noguchi lived in Japan in his young life, moving back to the US at age thirteen. While taking evening sculpture classes on New York’s Lower East Side, he decided to become an academic sculptor, training in the US and Paris. In 1938, he was first recognized in the US when he completed a stainless steel relief called “News” symbolizing the freedom of the press on the Associated Press building in Rockefeller Center. He went on to complete many outdoor sculptures in NYC, including my favorite, a modern, bright red and precariously balancing cube called “Red Cube”,  located in the financial district, off of Williams Street. For an example of Noguchi’s outdoor, unrefined sculpture go to Central Park. “Unidentified Object”, done in 1979, sits in the park by the Metropolitan Museum of art off of E 80th Street. My next mission is to get some pictures of these sculptures and post them for you. I’ll link them when I do.

Noguchi opened  and personally designed this museum in 1985, at that point this area was still mainly industrial. Today this area of Long Island City, Queens is quickly developing with brand new high rise condos that overlook the East River and quaint cafes.

©2012 Danee Gilmartin All rights reserved

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  1. Mary-Elizabeth Patton 08.14.2013

    I remember being at the Museum the year MOMA was in Queens
    was so excited by the museum & garden .
    I do remember going upstairs at the time.. & if I am not mistaken there were sets for a ballet or stage of some kind
    could you please let me know if I am dreaming it or is it indeed true
    thanks so much ..
    I’m 82 & could be mistaken .

  2. Andi 02.28.2012

    I didn’t even know this museum existed! Looks really cool.

    • MuseumChick 03.2.2012

      Hi Andi! It is such a cool small museum. I love finding these kind-of lesser known and unassuming spots!

      • Philip Koch 03.4.2012

        Lesser known museum so often give you an intimacy of experience that’s hard to get in the major museums like the Metropolitan. And given their modest budgets, they often fly beneath our personal radar. That’s why it’s so good you do a blog like this.

        My old friend Ken Wayne recently became Curator at Noguchi Museum. Years ago Ken ran the Art Program for the University of Maryland University College (which really is a museum collecting artists from Maryland, even thought it doesn’t call itself that).

        One of my favorite museums down my way in Maryland is the Washington Country Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown,
        HD. I often tell artist friends at MICA about it and all too often I hear in reply “there’s an art museum in Hagerstown?” If you’re ever down that way you ought to visit- great 19th and Am. Impressionist collections.