Western Living Magazine
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A museum and a park worth leaving Manhattan for.
On your next New York trip, take a break from the midtown tourist scene and too-hip restaurants for a trek out to these two incredible designed memorials.
Walking through the loft-like, almost unworldly complex of the Noguchi Museum in Queens to admire the late artist’s profound sculptures can feel like meeting the man directly. And that’s because it sort of is. Isamu Noguchi designed and curated this museum before his death, having converted a former industrial building. Even the vacant spaces and dramatic shadows in the compact sculpture garden are his. To better understand Noguchi, the illegitimate son of a noted Japanese poet and his American editor, do not skip the biographical film.
This four-acre memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt (take the MTA’s tram to Roosevelt Island)—designed by Kahn before his lonely death in 1974 but not built until 2012—is magical. To walk up the park’s entrance steps, apparently leading to nowhere, then progress downward through one of two sloping allées that meet at the southernmost tip of Roosevelt Island, is to have a physical conversation with Kahn, or perhaps God. (After all, “God is in the work,” Kahn said of his discipline.) By the time you reach the temple-like, ceiling-less granite room at the parkís fore and look out at Manhattan across the East River, you might share FDRís vision of human potential, the subject of his Four Freedoms speech.