Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Isamu Noguchi Museum

This past weekend Nicole and I went to the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. A couple months ago we saw a pamphlet that was advertising how wonderful the 7 train was and all the attractions you can get to from there. I remembered that this museum was on the list but upon further research found that it was actually NO WHERE NEAR THE 7 TRAIN! whatevs.

Regardless, with Nicole's patience and fantastic knowledge of Queens, we made it. It's actually across the street from CostCo and right on the river.

Admission was $10 but $5 with a student ID which is not too bad considering how much you have to pay to get into some Manhattan museums. The interesting thing about the museum was that they give you laminated cards that have a picture of the sculpture instead of having them labels. Like so...

They have a different card for each room so you have to pick it up and then return it on your way out. It made it more fun because we would compete to see who could pick out the sculpture first. Oh wait...that was just me.

Anyway, the museum is across the street from where Noguchi's studio used to be. How cool! He (1904-1988) has a very interesting biography and one that I won't get too into, but he's actually half-Japanese. His father was apparently a well-known poet in Japan and abandoned Isamu's mother (who was his mistress), his sister and Isamu to move back to Japan. The rest of them followed suit and Isamu ended up living in Japan for 17 years and came back to the States to go to Columbia, actually. Definitely read the wikipedia page if you're interested in learning more about him.

So the first room we entered had these huge stone sculptures in a warehouse-like setting. This one, as indicated above, is called "Narrow Gate". The color of the stone is actually a little darker than in the picture here and it reminded me a lot of gates in front of residences in Japan.

We then entered this room which looked like something out of Beetlejuice.

A lot of these pieces were granite and marble and soooo shiny! It was hard to not touch them!

This one was called "Sun at Noon". You can see why.

You can see how seamless it is! And the color was just breath-taking. Can you believe nature can produce a color so vibrant?

I don't remember what this next one was called but it reminded Nicole of the universe and me of a desert in Arizona or something.

Again, I love the shininess of it!

While Nicole and I were in the first room, we wondered if Noguchi saw a piece of stone and then decided what it was going to be or had an idea and then found the stones to fit the pieces. I guess the verdict is still out with the huge stone sculptures in the first room (which were completed in the last few years of his life), but as far as the marble pieces in the Beetlejuice room goes, this answered our question:

He made miniatures of all of his sculptures before making them!

A few rooms later, we came across "Sun at Midnight".

Pretty self-explanatory.

And this piece I loved! It's called "Walking Void #2".

It's one single piece of stone that's essentially a closed loop yet it has so much movement in it! Amazing!!!

Oooo and here was a fun one. At one point, Noguchi was asked to redesign Riverside Park and its playgrounds. Once the City Parks Commissioner saw his design, he rejected it but the model still exists.

I love that I can see myself walking along Riverside Drive and then entering the park. When it's nice out, I sit on a bench in the park and read during my lunch break. How cool would it have been if this design was realized?!

They had a second floor, too!

And this is the garden museum. This time, they not only had a laminated card telling us what each sculpture was but also which trees were what.

This really brings me back to Japan. I love Japanese vegetation. (Can you tell I'm itching to go back?)

And here is a sculpture that's similar to the his "Water Stone" sculpture at the Met. You can see the similarities from the dish Eli and I ate a few months ago at the Met Trustee Dining Room.

The next was another favorite "Mother and Child".

We also meandered to the small gift shop where we saw some furniture that Noguchi designed. Like this ultra-comfy chair...

Psyche! It's a miniature! Did you expect that?! Gosh, I'm such a dork.

The museum was really great and inspiring. I've been really getting into modern architecture and art recently. It initially surprised me since I really like conservative designs and gravitate more towards traditional architecture but I'm finding the more I learn about modern architecture and art, the more I'm appreciating it. It also makes sense since I'm someone who really appreciates clean lines and symmetry. See, this is why I love New York!

I will say though that by the time I got to the second floor, I was a little museumed-out. It's possible I have acute ADHD but I'll say it again - I like museums to either be really huge so you don't feel pressured to see it all or pretty small so that you can go through it in less than an hour and a half. But I definitely recommend going to this museum even though it's a little cumbersome to get to.

Nicole and I then went to Astoria for lunch. I just have to share with you what I got for dessert:

I forget the exact name of it but it translated to "Little Mouse" or something like that. Underneath the hard chocolate shell was chocolate mousse sitting on top of sponge cake.



  1. What a great museum, I need to check it out...and those chocolate mice look amazing!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed the museum - Adam took me there a couple years ago, and I LOVED it. So funny - I called that room the Beetlejuice room too!