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The Noguchi Museum in Queens

Gallery of Noguchi Museum Drawing at the Noguchi Museum Gonzalo Fonseca exhibit at the Noguchi Museum sunlight in the gallery at Noguchi Museum

We spent a few hours today at The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, Queens and I can easily say it was our best art museum visit yet. It could be that my daughter is beginning to develop an appreciation for art (or at least better self control!), or that I’m better able as a parent to structure our time and help navigate her through galleries. But I think in this case most of the credit goes to The Noguchi Museum for developing and presenting thoughtful materials and programs to help families appreciate and enjoy art together while learning more about the sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi’s life’s work.

Open Studio activity at Noguchi Museum Building at the Noguchi Museum lamps at the Noguchi Museum

Our visit began before setting foot in the museum, as I read through the very helpful “Tips for Families Visiting the Museum” section of their website. I especially appreciated their included discussion starters for suggestions on initiating conversations about the artworks with children. At the museum, which was designed and built by the artist in an old industrial building across the street from his studio, we picked up a Walking Guide for Families (available at the desk) and made our way to the classroom and education space. There, we participated in the once-monthly Open Studio program, designed to help families with children aged 2-11 explore the galleries and create art in response to their experiences (the Open Studio program is held on the first Sunday of each month; you can find the schedule here).

The theme for today’s Open Studio was sculptures made from wood, so we began by visiting the galleries and spending time looking at, drawing, and discussing two different works, guided by a series of activities and prompts prepared by the museum. I thought the questions posed to the children about the two sculptures were excellent — they helped me better understand how to engage my daughter and encourage her to really look at the works, and I was surprised by how thoughtful some of her responses were! She loved the more tactile experiences of sketching one of the sculptures and exploring the concept of balance by observing a work and then building a balanced sculpture with wooden blocks. We worked at our own pace, spending as much time as we wanted on each activity before moving on.

Kids' sticker at Noguchi Museum Gallery at Noguchi Museum Art activity at Noguchi Museum Open Studio Outdoor sculptures at the Noguchi Museum Family Walking Guide at the Noguchi Museum

Back in the classroom space, we found various shapes of balsa wood arranged in baskets, and the children were invited to choose some and then use scissors, glue, and tape to create their own wooden sculptures. Bags were helpfully provided to transport the artworks home, and while the glue on my daughter’s sculpture dried a bit, we walked through the galleries again using the Walking Guide for Families (next time I’ll print and bring these fun Scavenger Hunt Cards). On the way home I asked her what she liked best about our visit, and she replied, “making a sculpture I was allowed to touch!” Ha! Can’t argue with that!

A few additional notes:

  • Family programs cost $10 for up to 4 family members, which includes museum admission and art materials.
  • Strollers are not allowed inside the museum; baby carriers are recommended.
  • The museum includes indoor/outdoor galleries and a sculpture garden, all better enjoyed in warmer weather (many of the sculptures in the garden were wrapped to protect them from winter weather).
  • A small cafe and museum store are located on the first level of the museum.
  • The museum is accessible by subway and bus.

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