Museum educator and young student have a conversation on large red Play Sculpture in The Noguchi...
Photo: Katherine Abbott. ©INFGM / ARS

Professional Development Programs

The Noguchi Museum is pleased to offer Professional Development Programs for educators throughout the school year. Thematic programs provide teachers with primary resources for the classroom and interdisciplinary strategies for including Noguchi’s art and writing in their curriculum.  

Playground Design
November 5, 2019, 10:00 am–3:00 pm
Program Cost: Free

How can a playground also be a sculpture? How does a playground serve the community? Beginning in 1933 Isamu Noguchi investigated these questions and began conceiving playgrounds for New York City. His early models reflect his interests in bridging fine art and everyday life. During a time when mass-produced playground equipment reigned, Noguchi’s designs considered people of all ages and abilities. With a focus on “creative play,” his models included elements like wading pools, earth modulations, amphitheaters, and slides. Although none of his playgrounds were created in New York City, they have been realized in other parts of the world, including the monumental Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Japan. 

Teachers in this workshop will learn about Noguchi’s extensive history creating playground designs, and will explore both his models and Play Sculpture (c.1965, fabricated 2017), a full-sized piece of play equipment on view in the galleries. In the studio, teachers will learn how to create playground models, which can be applied for students in grades K-12. Each teacher will receive poster-sized images of Noguchi’s playground models for their classroom, and pdf files of the primary resources reviewed throughout the day.  

Spaces for the Playground Design professional development workshop are limited, and will be available on a first-come, first serve basis.

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Tailored Professional Development Programs 

As an artist who refused traditional boundaries, Isamu Noguchi’s life and art uniquely connect to a myriad of topics that are relevant to school curriculum. Noguchi was a biracial artist born in California, who lived and traveled extensively all over the world. Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculptures, furniture, lighting, gardens, architecture, ceramics, and set design. Programs focus on building critical and creative thinking skills, academic connections, and developing empathy through art. To book a program specifically designed for your group, please email or call 718.204.7088 ext 203. 

The cost for a Teacher Workshop for up to 20 teachers is as follows:
Half Day (3 hours): $400
Full Day (6 hours): $600

Curriculum Guides

Self-Interned: 1942 (grades 5–12) After the bombing at Pearl Harbor in 1941, Isamu Noguchi realized he was not just an artist and American, but he was also Nisei, a Japanese American. This guide focuses on teaching students about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II through Noguchi’s art and writing.

Mining Art: Basalt, Granite, Marble (grades K–5) Isamu Noguchi searched for stones all over the world, and wrote “The beauty of a particular stone can only been seen when found.” This guide focuses on identifying and classifying the qualities of a stone, and discussing how Noguchi included elements of a stone’s composition in his art. 

What is Sculpture? (grades 3–12) What is a definition of sculpture? Can a lamp be a sculpture? Or a garden? Noguchi wrote, “Call it sculpture when it moves you so.” This guide focuses on how Noguchi broadened the definition of sculpture through his art. 

The Noguchi Museum Teacher Think Tank

In the spirit of Isamu Noguchi’s commitment to collaboration and experimentation, The Noguchi Museum invited classroom and museum educators to participate in the Teacher Think Tank. The cohort met five times during the school year to collectively discuss and research topics related to school and museum education.

In 2017-19 year, the Think Tank explored the questions: How are collaborations most successful? How do individuals play different roles within a collaboration? The group decided to collaborate on a book collecting their most successful tips and tricks for the art and museum educator. 

In 2016-2017, the Think Tank examined the role of themes in the classroom and museum. Through their experiments, they investigated how themes are chosen, when they’re most beneficial, and when a non-thematic approach could be appropriate. View a short report of their work.

In 2015-2016, the Think Tank experimented with non-verbal communication in their teaching. Through these experiments, they discovered vulnerabilities, cultural assumptions, and tools for effective instruction and classroom management. View a short report of their work.

In 2014-2015, the Think Tank focused on the following questions: What have you always wanted to try in your teaching practice? What does it mean to experiment? When is a risk worth taking? View a compilation of their experiments.

For the 2013-2014 year, the Think Tank explored the questions: What kind of philosophical questions do students pose and address with a work of art? When does inquiry with art become philosophical inquiry?

During the 2012-2013 school year, the Think Tank wondered, “What does success look like for a school tour at an art museum?” View a report sharing advice for teachers and museum educators