New York City will invest $4.5 million in the ongoing revamp of the Isamu Noguchi Museum, steward of the celebrated Japanese American artist’s sculptures and designs, city officials announced Thursday.
The announcement came from Laurie Cumbo, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) commissioner, who visited the Noguchi Museum Thursday, just blocks from the Long Island City riverfront.
Cumbo announced that the museum had been awarded $4.5 million in capital funding, $1.5 million of which came from Mayor Eric Adams and the rest from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. The funds are part of a landmark $220 million investment from the DCLA and City Council and Borough Presidents in more than 70 cultural organizations citywide, including the Queens Museum and the artist-run residency program Flux Factory.
The cornerstone of the Noguchi Museum’s expansion and unification project is a restoration of the artist’s original 1959 living and studio space situated opposite the museum. When completed, the public will be able to tour the studio building for the first time in its history.
Brett Littman, director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, said in a statement: “Isamu Noguchi was a fearless, category-defying, cross-disciplinary polymath, and our new Noguchi campus, which will include the Art and Archive Building and the renovation of his 10th Street studio and apartment, will allow us to better reflect on the complex nature of Noguchi’s work and life.”
Littman extended the museum’s gratitude to Cumbo, Mayor Adams, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for “their support and investment.”
Plans to unify and expand the Noguchi campus were first announced in April 2019. It includes a new two-story, 6,000-square-foot building adjacent to Noguchi’s studio to house the museum’s collection and archival material.
Noguchi was born in 1904 to a Japanese poet father and an American writer mother. He moved to New York in in the early 1960s, establishing a humble base in Long Island City, then a metal-working district, which he described as “a house inside a factory.” His world-renowned practice spanned furniture design, outdoor sculpture, and theater sets, all marked by his use of natural elements that evoked organic forms. Noguchi died in 1988, only three years after founding his namesake museum and sculpture garden.