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Teeming with Metaphors: Museum of Stones @Noguchi Museum

Published on
October 29


The Noguchi Museum is a strange place. You should go.

On the surface, it’s a gallery space with a garden.
But being there, hmm, it did something to my cosmic insides.
And even now, days later, it still has a hold on me.


There’s something about contemplating stone.
(stones and rocks in many forms, with many histories, with many connections, some concealed)
It elicits, it invokes
fertile, sensual, poetic reflection.


You will want to touch the profusion of textures
but you can’t
so your subconscious will devour their form
and you will find your fingertips teeming with metaphors,
most of them in languages you don’t understand,
but you know how to feel.


You will hear from many that The Noguchi Museum is an idyllic space. Like me, you might expect greenery and other typical associations. But this place is idyllic because of the work that is in it and the thoughts and feelings those pieces provoke. The echoes of footsteps on wooden floors, the dimmed light on cinderblock walls, and those carefully chosen species of trees harboring a deafening hive of larks do help, but they do not steal the show.


And it is very deliberate. 
Noguchi and the curators are co-conspirators
in creating this psychological landscape.
This is a very smart museum.
And Museum of Stones is a very smart exhibit.


“If the sculpture is the rock, it is also the space between rocks and between the rock and a man, and the communication and contemplation between.“ 
-Isamu Noguchi, quoted in the exhibit program



The Noguchi Museum exclusively exhibits Isamu Noguchi’s work, but with Museum of Stones, in honor of their 30th anniversary, they have changed things up. In this exhibit, Noguchi’s pieces are put in conversation with the past through ancient examples on loan from the Met, and with the present through the work of various contemporary artists like Janine Antoni and Lawrence Weiner. The result is a confrontation with the possibilities of stone sculpture. The exhibit sparks a dialogue through contrast about locating Noguchi’s particular resonance, and expands his scope by elucidating nuance about where he drew his inspiration. Museum of Stones succeeds on a heady art history level as fluently as it does at a personal touchy-feely level, and best of all, the levels feed each other.


A receptive visitor cannot be passive at the Noguchi Museum, the depth of reflection it provokes is so immersive, that the exhibit becomes interactive and accompanies you far beyond its walls. I would love to go on and on about abstract shapes and synesthesia, geometrical alignment and celestial bodies, an argument for noise in pause, animism in matter, the peace and value of things being in your way on the floor, surface and core interactions, physical changes versus chemical changes yet an enduring wholeness, the tenuous illusion of the artificial, and more and more and less. But those thoughts are for me, you should visit and excavate the particular wisdom you need buried in what speaks beyond words.

I recommend bringing a good camera and taking close-up photographs to make your own abstract art collection. Flash is not allowed, but take advantage that photography is encouraged at The Noguchi Museum!


Museum of Stones will be on display until January 10, 2016. Admission to The Noguchi Museum is free through the Arts Initiative’s Passport to Museums program with a student CUID and semester validation sticker. While you visit The Noguchi Museum, you can also pass by Socrates Sculpture Park which is less than a block away and also a Passport partner.  

All photos courtesy of The Noguchi Museum.