Isamu Noguchi with Skyviewing Sculpture model

Looking Up: The Skyviewing Sculptures of Isamu Noguchi

Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
July 26, 2022 – November 26, 2022

Curated exclusively for the Western Gallery at Western Washington University by Dakin Hart, Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum, New York, this exhibition brings Isamu Noguchi’s skyviewing sculptures together for the first time. More than forty sculptures and several drawings have been loaned for the exhibition by The Noguchi Museum.

The exhibition explores the various forms that the skyviewing theme takes in context of works comprising sixty years of Noguchi’s long career, 1928 to 1988. While some of Noguchi’s sculptures act as observatories, encouraging viewers to enter and turn their gaze to the sky, others act as reflecting telescopes with polished stone or water that mirror the heavens. Still others trace the path of the sun with cast shadows, or lead the eye upwards. Recalling sundials, celestial bodies, and spaceships, the works encourage “an awareness of the void” and express Noguchi’s desire to help humanity to calibrate “the relative value of all things.”

One of Noguchi’s most ambitious exploration of the theme was accomplished with the 17-foot-high landmark Skyviewing Sculpture that he created for Western Washington University’s central plaza, Red Square, in 1969. Along with other sculptures in Western’s renowned sculpture collection, the Skyviewing Sculpture has long been a resource for self-directed education and is used for interpretative training in several courses in the University’s different colleges. This will be expanded during the exhibition. Beyond talks and creative activities for schools and families, extensive interpretative events will take place during the exhibition, including a two day symposium on October 23–24. Learn more at



Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue edited by Hafthor Yngvason, director of Western Gallery, Western Washington University, with contributions from Noguchi Museum curators Matthew Kirsch and Kate Wiener. It is published by D Giles Ltd.

Skyviewing is an important theme running through much of Isamu Noguchi’s art, and this is the first book to explore it in depth. Noguchi made two major skyviewing sculptures, one at Western Gallery, and the other in Honolulu, but the theme of space and charting our place in the universe is also present in many of his other works. Looking Up explores the changing artistic climate during Noguchi’s career, and places him in context with a younger generation of artists, including Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, James Turrell, and Charles Ross. Extensive commentaries on individual works—including many of his best-known sculptures—offer a fuller understanding of Noguchi’s complete body of work.

In addition, in his detailed study of Noguchi’s encounter with the Jantar Mantars, Matthew Kirsch explores an important source for the artist’s approaches to skyviewing. The volume also features photographs of the fabrication, transportation, and installation of the Skyviewing Sculpture in 1969, documented by photographer Mary Randlett.

Buy the Catalogue

Isamu Noguchi with Skyviewing Sculpture at Western Washington University
Isamu Noguchi, Skyviewing Sculpture, Western Washington University, 1969. Photo: Jerry Gay. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 03995. ©INFGM / ARS


Looking Up: The Skyviewing Sculptures of Isamu Noguchi is made possible through a major sponsorship provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.