The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

Ahh, Noguchi Museum, where have you been all my life? I know where: tucked away in an industrial neighborhood in Queens, not easy to get to, and not on the way to anything else [actually, the museum is across the street from Costco, so there’s that]. Okay, let’s explore the Noguchi Museum, shall we?

The unassuming compound was Noguchi’s workshop and studio. On a Saturday afternoon, it was eerily quiet. The few visitors spoke in hushed tones appropriate for a house of worship.

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

Everything seems so tactile, but visitors aren’t allowed to touch the work. I do understand that, but merely looking at these sensuous forms seemed to be somewhat missing the point:

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

Among the works on display were a few of these granite tablescapes, in which distance is condensed as in a Zen meditation garden:

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

An unusual folded metal sculpture:

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

Out the window, visitors get a glimpse of some manufacturing buildings in the foreground and housing in the distance. Being in this place where the work itself happened, which was chosen because of its proximity to Noguchi’s suppliers, is completely different from the usual glitzy detachment of a museum:

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

The one aspect of Noguchi’s work that wasn’t covered in the galleries was his furniture design. It was present in the gift shop, of course, but I would have appreciated a narrative thread helping to tie these massive sculptures and public space models to his smaller, utilitarian lighting and furniture pieces.

The Noguchi Museum in Queens

If you find yourself visiting NYC, or if you live there and have never been to the Noguchi Museum, I highly, highly recommend it.

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35 thoughts on “The Noguchi Museum in Queens

  1. I love the Noguchi Museum! I’ve been there a few times, and even the name is awesome. You took some great pictures! Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  2. M,

    I have a great NYC friend, George Juergens, who has worked

    @ Noguchi Museum for years.

    The museum rocks + remains a true hidden gem

    in NYC art scene.

  3. The museum is incredible. In hindsight, I’m embarrassed that I knew about it for years but only recently made the time to go. The place was pretty empty, too, which made for a really pleasant experience, but it deserves to be better known and more visited.

  4. That was a major bummer for me, and I think Noguchi’s work was always meant to be touched. Why else work with so many varied materials with different textures? But, okay, if everyone were to touch the work, you’d end up with a smoothed-out, finger-greased mess.

    Crystal, the city is full of incredible places to visit, so I can’t really single out the Noguchi Museum as a better venue than any of the other smaller museums — the New Museum, Cloisters, Cooper-Hewitt, Jewish Museum, Bronx Museum, Frick, etc. If your time is limited, then you may not want to trek to Queens just for Noguchi. But, if you’ve got enough time to do it, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

  5. Thank you for this post. I’m familiar with only his furniture design legacy which I saw a tv documentary piece a few yrs. ago.

    Provocative sculpture!

  6. See? This is precisely why I had to share my photos and observations of my recent visit — because so many people probably don’t know that this museum exists, let alone know how much non-furniture work Noguchi created in his lifetime. The museum focuses mostly on his sculptures and models, which is a great complement to the lighting and other pieces that are probably more familiar to many people.

  7. To think all’s I ever did in Queens was party at friends houses…but that was years & years ago…the museum looks nice, too bad now when I might actually appreciate it I’m in Phoenix, AZ. Thanks for sharing!

    evelyngarone.com

  8. Is that sculpture park on the water — a few blocks away — still there? It was a little rough around the edges but very charming in its own way. Reminded me of (the now closed) Mac’s Farm in my neighborhood.

    For visitors to New York, I always like to suggest the Tenament Museum, for something that’s not like any other museum.

  9. Mac’s Farm was an old, old family farm, surrounded by subdivisions on Plainfield near Creek Road. It’s still there, it’s for sale (rumor had it Mac fell in love with someone who lives in another city and he moved away). From 02-06, there were site-specific sculpture shows there every fall. It was one of those best-kept secrets.

    http://www.macsfarm.org/exhibitions/index.html

  10. How amazing. I actually took a bunch of photos at Socrates Sculpture Park, but then decided that the place is not that photogenic. Maybe I’ll post them here for you and challenge myself to try to explain what goes on there.

  11. The Noguchi Museum is a dream of a space… It would be tactile overload if viewers were allowed to touch the work. Thanks to your great photos, I get to relive my visit there earlier this year.

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