Past Exhibitions


View photographs and learn more about past exhibitions at The Noguchi Museum and other institutions around the world.

Matrix code: 
Noguchi's Playscapes (Los Parques de Noguchi)
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - Sunday, October 9, 2016

Presented by Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, Noguchi’s Playscapes is the most comprehensive exhibition to date focusing on Isamu Noguchi's vision of playgrounds and the public space. It includes models, sketches, architectural drawings and photographs, along with full-scale reconstructions of play sculptures and playscapes.

The show revisits some of Isamu Noguchi’s key ideas on how to discuss play, recreation, and education; and thus provokes a reconsideration of these categories within the sense of community that exists in our times. Embracing the possibility of closing the gap between art and functionality, Noguchi fiercely defended the idea that sculpture is an aesthetic and cultural tool capable of smoothing our passage between individuality and society. He took a favorable view of the democratization of art and the public space, inspiring him to create a number of playgrounds and play structures designed to stimulate creative activity as a way of learning about and participating in the world.

The scale models, sketches, set designs, and archival images included in this show—the first of its kind in Mexico—attest to the artist’s fifty-year-long investigation of spaces for play. The Museo Tamayo has created full-scale working reproductions of Noguchi's play sculptures, which were last made in Japan four decades ago. Located both inside and outside the building, these will be accessible to visitors of the museum and of Chapultepec Park. To read more, visit  #LosParquesdeNoguchi

Image: Isamu Noguchi, Maquette for US Pavilion Expo, 1970. Painted plaster. © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY.

Isamu Noguchi: Functional Ceramics
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - Sunday, July 24, 2016

In honor of Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony, which will include a display of more than 300 of Sachs' handmade porcelain chawan (tea bowls), the Museum is showing a selection of Noguchi's more “functional” ceramics: plates, bowls, trays, and other traditional forms—along with other pieces that play with the notion of use value.

Image: Face Dish (Boku), 1952. Shigaraki stoneware. Photo: Kevin Noble. Homepage: Installation view. Photo: Nicholas Knight.

1 of 4
Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - Sunday, July 24, 2016

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. Available 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.

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: 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.

Noguchi + Pratt
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - Sunday, June 12, 2016

A collaboration between The Noguchi Museum and Pratt Institute, Interior Design.

Each Spring, Pratt Institute's Interior Design Graduate Level Qualifying Design Studio course asks students to draw inspiration from Isamu Noguchi's work. This year, students chose objects from the Museum's permanent collection on long-term view and Highlights from the Collection: Design Into Art exhibition to research and incorporate into a hypothetical Noguchi Museum Annex in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Work from all participating students is exhibited at The Noguchi Museum in the lower-level gallery; including drawings, examples of object analysis, and four select student projects in their entirety.

Image: Isamu Noguchi, Strange Bird, 1945. Bronze. Photo: Kevin Noble.

Artists at Noguchi | Sarah Cahill Performs Mamoru Fujieda's Patterns of Plants
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - Sunday, February 28, 2016

For one week in February, the chill and grey skies of winter will dissipate for visitors to The Noguchi Museum’s ground-floor galleries, where internationally celebrated pianist Sarah Cahill will take up residence, performing Mamoru Fujieda’s stunning cycle of short pieces titled Patterns of Plants throughout the Museum’s opening hours.

A masterpiece by one of the leading postminimalist composers, Patterns of Plants (1996–2011) represents an extraordinary fusion of nature and technology. To create the piece, Fujieda measured the electrical impulses on the leaves of plants using the "Plantron," a device created by botanist/artist Yūji Dōgane, and converted the data he obtained into sound with Max, a visual programming language used for music and multimedia. He then identified musical patterns within the sound, and used them as the basis for these miniatures.

Both captivating and profound, Patterns of Plants has been arranged for different instruments and ensembles. In 2014, Cahill made the first solo piano recording of it to be available outside of Japan, released on the Pinna Records label.

Museum of Stones
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - Sunday, January 10, 2016

Think of a circumstance in which rock and water rub up against each other: in a river gorge, along a coast, where a gutter empties onto a flagstone, or rain falls regularly on a travertine wall. At any given moment, rock is the sculptor and water is the material. Expand the timeline a bit, however, and the relationship reverses; water becomes the sculptor and rock the material. A creative awareness of this paradox, as refracted through a kaleidoscope of different cultural traditions, is The Noguchi Museum in a nutshell.

As a yin-yang, this reciprocal relationship between water and stone is one of a pile of material, allegorical, literary, scientific, metaphorical, artistic, structural, and cultural contexts in which stone operated in Noguchi’s imagination and as a touchstone for his work. The rock with which David killed Goliath; Scylla and Charybdis, the proverbial rock and hard place; the fact that one translation of calculus is pebble--as in the counters used in the development of mathematics (and in voting) in the ancient, Latin-speaking world; the walls that say so much about us in separating my things from your things all over the planet; the glacial erratics and other natural “miracles” that helped inspire the systematic approach to inquiry that became the scientific method; standing stones, humanity’s earliest attempts to dominate nature and explain existence, and the memorials by which we try to deny the insignificance of a biological lifespan on a geologic timescale. These points of reference frame the works in the exhibition.

Museum of Stones grew initially out of the artist Jimmie Durham’s critique of sculpture and architecture as stone denaturing regimes that advance the Western European notion that we need to establish impenetrable bulwarks against time, nature and each other. Much of Durham’s work aims to restore to stone some of the capriciousness, liveliness, transience and impressionability it exhibits in nature. The exhibition is an attempt to fuse Durham’s critique with an appreciation for the ways in which rock and stone act as barometers of civilization and its disconnects. Noguchi believed, as the Japanese tend to, that rock and stone have a lifecycle they should be allowed to experience in full, but he also recognized rock and stone as the seminal raw materials of technology and believed deeply in their use.

Noguchi learned to square a block of marble—and then to transform it into an abstract icon of Modernism—from Constantin Brancusi, the high priest of command and control carving, and he ended his career, at least in one of his many modes, as something closer to a process artist: not conjuring images from stone but exploring materials, often through processes at some remove from his own hand. It’s not that he gave one approach up for another so much as that he allowed different paradigms to accumulate, complicating his thinking and his work, over time.

His ambivalence is encompassed by one definition of the semantic difference between rock and stone: nature makes rocks; we make stones. If all goes to plan, the exhibition will create a series of boundary layers in which rocks and stones are difficult to differentiate from each other.

Museum of Stones is the first exhibition in the Museum’s history to insert the work of contemporary artists into the original Noguchi installation. The exhibition will include approximately fifty works by approximately thirty artists, installed throughout the Museum. It will also feature an installation of fifteen Chinese rock-related objects on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Image: Installation view of Museum of Stones. Photo: Elizabeth Felicella.