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Noguchi first created the design for his Contoured Playground in 1941, utilizing “earth modulations” to construct a compact landscape in which children could play. Like many of Noguchi’s playground designs, Contoured Playground was never built. However, Noguchi cast his 2-by-2-foot plaster model—shorn of the play equipment that appears in an archival photo and is being recreated for the current exhibition—in bronze and included this cast, along with many other models for spaces, in the Museum’s permanent collection.
For this exhibition, developed in collaboration with architect Naomi Frangos, Visiting Associate Professor, Cornell University, the Museum will treat Contoured Playground as a piece of theoretical architecture. The centerpiece of the installation will be a 10-foot-square enlargement of the model, featuring Noguchi’s original proposals for equipment (known from just one archival photograph). The exhibition will also include a 1:1 scale silhouette of the topography of Contoured Playground from the perspective of someone standing in the middle of the actual playground (had it been built), the bronze cast of the original model, and a number of other schematic interpretations of the overall plan, providing visitors a multitude of ways to experience this unrealized space.