Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony

The Museum’s 30th-anniversary programming culminates with an installation by celebrated artist Tom Sachs. This major exhibition is the first at the Museum to present work by a single artist other than Noguchi.

The exhibition centers on an immersive environment representing Sachs’ distinctive reworking of chanoyu, or traditional Japanese tea ceremony—including the myriad elements essential to that intensely ritualistic universe.

Among the large stone sculptures by Isamu Noguchi in the Museum’s indoor/outdoor galleries, Sachs has set a tea house in a garden accessorized with variations on lanterns, gates, a wash basin, a plywood airplane lavatory, a koi pond, an ultra HD video wall with the sublime hyper-presence of Mt. Fuji, a bronze bonsai made of over 3,600 individually welded parts, and other objects of use and contemplation. Sachs has also produced a complete alternative material culture of Tea—from bowls and ladles, scroll paintings and vases, to a motorized tea whisk, a shot clock, and an electronic brazier.

Supplementing the tea garden are three additional installations covering consummate examples of Sachs’ Tea tools, a brief history of Tea as it developed out of Sachs’ Space Program 2.0: MARS, and a small retrospective of the artist’s two decade–long career as a cultural hybridizer.

Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony is accompanied by a 280-page artist’s book, Tea Ceremony Manual, documenting the artist’s culture and practice of Tea. Produced for the exhibition and published by The Noguchi Museum, with additional support from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Nasher Sculpture Center, it will be available in May. Available for preorder now in the Museum Shop.

The exhibition will travel to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in expanded form as Tom Sachs: Space Program 3.0: Europa (from September 16, 2016–January 15, 2017), and to Nasher Sculpture Center as Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony from September 9, 2017–January 7, 2018.

To learn more about Tom Sachs, visit

Read more about the show in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Exhibition Walking Guides (PDF)


Tea Ceremonies

The setting and the tools constitute only part of the culture of Tea. As beautiful as they are on their own, they exist to serve a ritual: chanoyu, literally the making of “hot water for tea” and the drinking of tea. The opportunity to connect with nature, time, and each other—to slow down in a constrained environment designed to sit outside reality, in relative simplicity and silence—is the heart of the experience and the culture.

During the course of the exhibition, Tom Sachs and his friend and colleague in Tea, Johnny Fogg, will perform tea ceremony for two or three guests. On these occasions, the walls of the tea house will be removed, enabling all visitors to observe the ceremony. Performances are included with Museum admission.


Apply to be a Guest

To apply to be a guest at a tea ceremony with Tom Sachs or Johnny Fogg, select one of the times listed below. Please apply for only one date. The application process for each ceremony closes one week prior to the date on which it will be held.

Before completing an application, prospective guests must watch the following Tom Sachs films: Ten Bullets, COLOR, and Love Letter to Plywood, available at

Tea Ceremony with Tom Sachs

Saturday, June 25: 3pm

Tea Ceremony with Johnny Fogg

Saturday, May 21: 12pm and 3:30pm (Registration now closed)

Sunday, May 22: 12pm and 3:30pm (Registration now closed)

Saturday, June 11: 12pm and 3:30pm

Sunday, June 12: 12pm

Saturday, June 26: 12pm and 3:30pm

Saturday, July 2: 12pm and 3:30pm

Sunday, July 3: 12pm and 3:30pm

After completing an application and receiving a confirmation, prospective guests must be present on the day of the ceremony and check in one hour before the scheduled start to be eligible for selection by lottery. Those not selected are encouraged to watch the ceremony and enjoy tea in the Museum Cafe.


Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and Sperone Westwater. Additional support is provided from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. The exhibition is part of the Noguchi Museum’s 30th anniversary programs, which are made possible, in part, by The Freeman Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, the William Talbott Hillman Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Images, from top: Tom Sachs cutting Con Ed laminate into cubes for use as charcoal briquettes. Photo: Genevieve Hanson. Tom Sachs collecting water for use in Tea Ceremony. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Guests are offered a bowl with hot coals to warm their hands. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Guest cleaning ladle after Purification Ritual. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.