The Noguchi Museum, chartered as The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, was designed and created by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Opening on a limited basis to the public in 1985 the purpose of the museum and foundation was and remains to preserve and display Noguchi's sculptures, architectural models, stage designs, drawings, and furniture designs. The two story museum and adjacent sculpture garden, located in Long Island City section of Queens, one block from the Socrates Sculpture Park, underwent major renovations in 2004 allowing the museum to stay open year round.
The New York State Council on the Arts has recognized the Museum's educational program, Art for Families, as a stellar example of a community outreach program, and Art for Tots as a “superb approach” in making young children comfortable in a museum setting.
Tree of Heaven:
Until March 26, 2008, a 60-foot (18 m)-tall 75 year old Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) was a prominent centerpiece of the sculpture garden at the museum. The tree was spared by Noguchi when in 1975 he bought the building which would become the museum and cleaned up its back lot. "[I]n a sense, the sculpture garden was designed around the tree", said a former aide to Noguchi, Bonnie Rychlak, who later became the museum curator. By early 2008 the tree was found to be dying and might have crashed into the building, which was about to undergo an $8.2 million renovation. The museum hired the Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop, an artists' collective, to use the wood to make benches, sculptures and other amenities in and around the building.