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Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

A museum featuring works of Japanese-American sculptor Noguchi in a garden setting.

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

Noguchi Isamu (1904-1988) was a sculptor who also designed and created conceptual projects, landscapes, earthworks, gardens, plazas, stage sets, furniture, and lighting fixtures. The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan in Mure, Kagawa is the fulfilment of his wish that his former studio be an extension of his museum in New York. The exhibits include 150 sculptures, many of which are unfinished. The museum claims to preserve the working atmosphere of his studio.

Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 and died in New York in 1988. His father was a Japanese poet and English literature scholar, and his mother was an American poet and writer. He spent his childhood in Japan until the age of thirteen when his mother sent him to the United States for his schooling. After dropping out of Columbia University, he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and studied in Paris with Brancusi. He traveled around Europe and Asia, finally settling in New York. Here he produced portrait sculpture, stage sets for Martha Graham, and furniture designs. Later he worked on large outdoor projects with architects. Noguchi also produced children’s playground installations, examples of which can be seen on Shōdoshima.

The museum is tucked away in a rural suburb of Takamatsu. Mure is an area known for its quarries and stone masons. The museum is housed within a circular stone wall. Various sculptures dot the lawns and reside within white-plastered barns. Across the road is a separate area on a hillock offering pleasant views over the region.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also note that the museum is not a hospitable place. An appointment is required to visit. You’re made to wait in a barn that’s hot in summer and cold in winter until the appointed time and beyond. Then you’re sternly warned not to touch anything and particularly not to take photos, before being herded into the sacred enclosure. Unsmiling staff cast a suspicious eye over you as you go around peering at this rock and that stone.  It’s hard to see the justification for all of this control. And the cost of this administration and oversight is amply reflected in the price of admission. Don’t go expecting to have fun.

Information

Name in Japanese: イサム・ノグチ庭園美術館

Pronunciation: isamu noguchi tei-en bijutsu kan

Address: 3519 Murecho Mure, Takamatsu, Kagawa 761-0121

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