Garden News Blog

Behind the Scenes at the Noguchi Installation

This week, staff from The Isamu Noguchi Museum and BBG, along with a team of expert art handlers, installed a series of sculptures by the renowned Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. The sculptures will be on display this fall as part of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Here’s a look at the process:

The proper placement of sculptures that weigh thousands of pounds is not easy. The highly skilled handlers used a forklift and heavy-duty gantry to make surprisingly precise maneuvers. It was not uncommon to hear instructions like “rotate four degrees clockwise, now move it back six inches to the right.”

The Noguchi Museum installs its sculptures off-site up to three times a year. Expertise in placing the works is crucial—the same rigging team has worked with the museum for 20 years and handles most of its installations.

The exhibition at BBG presented unique challenges. The team had to consider the intention of Noguchi himself, along with the relationship between each work and its particular surroundings. There were also plenty of practical matters to account for—like stabilizing heavy sculptures on uneven ground while protecting BBG’s plants and grounds.

Exhibiting Noguchi’s work at BBG is very much in keeping with the artist’s feelings that it should be seen outside of the gallery and in natural settings. Planning took a year, and the sculptures are meant be interpreted through their relationship with their surroundings.

Isamu Noguchi at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, featuring 18 of the artist’s sculptures sited among the Garden’s living collections, opens September 8 and runs through December 13.

Lee Patrick is an exhibit developer and former botanic photographer for BBG.

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Image, top of page:
Noguchi Installation
Plywood sheets help protect against soil compression as the riggers move a work into place. Photo by Lee Patrick.
Noguchi Installation
Native Flora Garden curator Uli Lorimer helps guide a team from Dun-Rite Specialized Carriers to an installation site. Photo by Lee Patrick.
Noguchi Installation
The team makes use of a gantry while carefully positioning an artwork. Photo by Lee Patrick.
Noguchi Installation
Curators from The Noguchi Museum arrange Noguchi’s multipiece Beginnings against a backdrop of boulders outside the Rock Garden. Photo by Lee Patrick.
Isamu Noguchi at BBG
Isamu Noguchi, Sky Mirror, 1970. Basalt. Collection of the Noguchi Museum. On display in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Photo by Lee Patrick.