The Noguchi Museum gets $4.5 million boost for planned campus expansion project in Queens

Studio Deal

The Noguchi Museum gets $4.5 million boost for planned campus expansion project in Queens

Artist Isamu Noguchi in his 10th Street studio in Long Island City, Queens, in 1964. The Noguchi Museum plans to restore the building and open it to the public for the first time in history as part of a major campus refresh. (The Noguchi Museum Archives, 07282. Photo: Dan Budnik. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / ARS/ Estate of Dan Budnik)

Just days after announcing significant capital funding for a slew of Brooklyn cultural sites (Green-Wood Cemetery, the borough’s favorite burial ground-slash-bucolic hangout spot-slash-cultural venue, chief among them), NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Commissioner Laurie Cumbo landed in Queens to reveal additional organizations and institutions based in New York City’s largest and second-most populous borough that will be awarded with capital project-earmarked funding. The support comes from a historic $127 million investment from City Hall in over 70 cultural groups citywide. Along with funding from the City Council and Borough Presidents, the total investment in these vital cultural institutions is more than $220 million.

During yesterday’s Queens stopover during her five-borough tour, Cumbo revealed that the Poppenhusen Institute, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Flux Factory, New York Hall of Science, and Queens Theatre will also receive a piece of the proverbial funding pie. Notably, the Noguchi Museum, located near the Long Island City riverfront, will receive $4.5 million in support—$1.5 million of it contributed by Mayor Eric Adams and the remainder by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards—to carry out a major revamp of the museum and sculpture garden’s campus. The expansion and unification project includes the addition of a new cafe and retail space along with the construction of a new conservation facility that Noguchi Museum director Brett Littman described as a “dedicated space to preserve, protect, and research Noguchi’s art and archive.”

The most significant public-facing element of the project will be the restoration of celebrated sculptor, furniture designer, and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi’s original 1959 studio space and pied-à-terre located opposite the museum on 10th Street. When work is complete, the public will be able to access Noguchi’s studio building for the first time in history. The two-story, 6,000-square-foot Arts and Archive Building will rise directly next to Noguchi’s restored studio.

Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese poet father and an American educator and editor mother, Noguchi passed away in New York in 1988, just three years after his namesake museum was established. He was  84.

“Since its founding in 1985, The Noguchi Museum has presented exhibitions and programs that reach audiences from throughout Queens, as well as around the world,” said Littman, who extended the museum’s gratitude to Cumbo, Mayor Adams, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for “their support and investment.”

“The extraordinary diversity and energy of Queens is reflected in its cultural organizations, and we’re thrilled to invest in these projects that will give local residents and visitors from all over access to the remarkable cultural facilities they deserve,” said Cumbo in a statement. “From this exciting new project at Noguchi Museum that will open up the legendary artist’s living spaces to the public for the first time, to the Queens Museum’s ongoing expansion, and many more – these projects are part of the City’s long-term investment in the cultural community of Queens and across all five boroughs.”

The planned expansion and unification of the Noguchi Museum campus in Long Island City was first announced in April 2019.

Queens is the final stop for Cumbo on her largesse-driven tour across all five boroughs. Since kicking off in Manhattan in June, the DCLA has since revealed its support for cultural institutions in Staten Island, the Bronx, and, as mentioned, Brooklyn. In addition to Green-Wood Cemetery and now the Noguchi Museum, other cultural institutions showcased during the DCLA’s capital funding tour included the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in Manhattan, the future Universal Hip Hop Museum at Mill Pond Park in the Bronx, and Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Music Hall.