Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Astorian" April: The Noguchi

The first year I moved to Astoria (which may or may not have actually been Long Island City), I lived in an apartment that was far from everything--trains, grocery stores, businesses that would sell my parents decent coffee and the New York Times when they visited--with the possible exception of a Costco. The upswing of living by a Costco is that I only actually bought toilet paper for a three bedroom apartment twice in a year. However, for everything else, it was a pretty inconvenient location. Similarly inconviently located a block away was the Noguchi Museum. This museum and sculpture garden was designed in the 80s by Isamu Noguchi to house his sculptures. Despite living a block away from it and the fact that it is located literally 10 feet from the back wall of the Costco, I never actually made it there.

Luckily, now I live firmly in Astoria, close to trains and within a 5-minute walk of three grocery stores, two 24-hour fruit and vegetable markets, and an organic shop that offers you the choice of ice cream or a wheat grass shot every time you spend over $20 (always the easiest decision I ever make). However, I'm still within a 20-minute walk of my old apartment and thus the Noguchi. I heard it was free the first Friday of every month, so this past Friday, I decided to do something culturally relevant with my lunch break.

The sculptures of the museum are indeed nice, but I think the bigger work of art is the museum they are housed in. Much like The Modern in Fort Worth, I found the building itself far more memorable than any individual piece on display. It is a two story structure with a small sculpture garden.

When you first enter the museum, you are actually outside, despite being under an overhang of the building. It's a cool effect because you wonder why it feels so open and then realize if you keep walking you are actually in the garden. Even the parts of the museum that are entirely enclosed use windows and light to their best advantage, so that you always feel a bit like you're still outside.

The other positive thing is that there are no explanations for any of the pieces on the walls to break the flow. Instead, at the beginning of each room you can pick up a laminated sheet that tells you what stone each sculpture is made of and when they were made. The explanations have little thumbnail photos next to them, so I guess if you were actually interested in following all the information, it would be something of a scavenger hunt.

The second floor of the museum has a cool wood floor that I want to say is teak, although I actually have no sense of different woods. Although I didn't take any pictures of it, it also had an interesting exhibit on the environmental future of Long Island City.

Anyway, that's the Noguchi Museum in a nut shell. I was happy to finally get the chance to go out there. I'll have to spend longer next time, when I'm not worrying about hurrying back to stay within my lunch break. I'm really looking forward to trying out new things in Queens this month (and in general). In my research, I found a park that has a free rock wall and ropes course that's open in the summers. I've also always wanted to visit the Queens County Farm, although this weekend they're having an Easter Egg Hunt, so I decided to steer clear. Must save something for next weekend, too.


  1. Looks like an interesting museum I'm looking forward to other things you plan to visit in Queens.

  2. Thanks! You've already seen more of Queens than many after our jaunt to the World's Fair Grounds and Queens Museum of Art. Classics, both!