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Isamu Noguchi bought the property that would become The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in 1974. He quickly put the space to use: moving much of the sculpture from his studio across the street, and beginning to turn the yard—then full of junk—into a garden. The Sculpture of Spaces, a 1980 exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art (which grew out of Imaginary Landscapes, his most comprehensive and coherent retrospective) got him thinking more concretely about his legacy as a maker of “environmental situations.” His ideas had by then begun to take root in this space and to become a tangible realization of his point of view.
The conversion from private refuge to public space began in early 1982. The resulting “sort of museum,” as he called it, began accepting private visits by appointment in the late spring of 1983. Two years later, on May 11, 1985, The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum formally opened to the public on a seasonal basis with limited hours.