Rikumo Field Trip: The Noguchi Museum

Core (Cored Sculpture), Isamu Noguchi, 1978, Basalt.

With an architect, industrial designer, interior designer and three artists on staff, there's no shortage of Isamu Noguchi fans in the Rikumo office. We decided to indulge in a field trip to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, NY. Opened in 1984, the museum is dedicated to the artistic legacy of this prolific Japanese-American artist. Noguchi (1904-88) was a sculptor, architect and industrial designer. His lifelong engagement with design manifested itself in a wide range of projects including stage sets, playgrounds, public sculptures, gardens and furniture.

Noguchi's Akari light sculptures are considered icons of 1950s modern design. Made from washi paper, bamboo and wires, the lamps are a blend of Japanese craft and Modernist form. They were inspired by the lanterns used by fishermen in Gifu, Japan.

Foreground: Floor Frame, Isamu Noguchi. 1962. Bronze.

Noguchi was interested in the relationship between humans and their environments. Many of his sculptures address human scale by being positioned low to the ground or scaled so that viewers may have a one to one engagement with the objects.

The museum's two-story complex has sun filled rooms, warm wood floors and a sculpture garden. The sculptures are placed in a casual manner, creating an intimate space for viewers to reflect and experience Noguchi's work. Large windows, skylights and open-air concrete areas ensure viewers are always experiencing Noguchi’s work in conjunction with nature.

Foreground:  Transformation of Nature (Shizen No Henka ), Isamu Noguchi, 1984.  Mikage granite.

Foreground: Transformation of Nature (Shizen No Henka), Isamu Noguchi, 1984. Mikage granite.

Experimentation and play were an important aspect of Noguchi’s studio practice. He used traditional materials such as stone, marble, wood, copper, steel and aluminum and also embraced new man-made materials.

Foreground:  Pink Jizo , Isamu Noguchi. 1960. Portuguese marble, brass, limestone.

Foreground: Pink Jizo, Isamu Noguchi. 1960. Portuguese marble, brass, limestone.

We had a wonderful afternoon wandering through this minimal oasis in Queens. If you're a fan of mid-century modern aesthetics or simply looking for an interesting day trip, the Noguchi Museum is a rare treat!


The Noguchi Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road at Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, NY. For more information, please see their website here. Check out our instagram for more snapshots from our trip.

Words and photos by: Elliot Walters