Jenny Dixon, the longtime director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, announced that she will retire from the position at the end of the year. The museum’s board of trustees is currently forming a search committee to find her replacement.
Dixon joined the institution as its fifth director in April 2003. At the time, it operated under the aegis of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, which had been established by the artist, and presented an ongoing exhibition of works by Noguchi, displayed as he had originally installed them. Early in her tenure, Dixon initiated a multi-year process that would transform the organization into an entity that encompassed a public museum, with a full roster of exhibitions and public programs—all related to Noguchi, his work, and influence—and a foundation devoted to the preservation and study of Noguchi’s work and life, with resources made available to scholars and others. In the process of doing so, she also stabilized the museum’s finances.
“The board and staff of the Noguchi Museum, as well as a broad public—from our neighbors in Queens, to New Yorkers from all five boroughs, and the national and international visitors for whom the Museum has become a treasured place of respite and learning—owe Jenny Dixon a deep debt of gratitude,” said Malcolm C. Nolen, Noguchi Museum’s board chair. “When Jenny came to the museum it was a beautiful, peaceful place, but a somewhat static one, and closed to the public for almost half the year. Today, it is a vital part of New York City’s mosaic of arts organizations, with an international reputation. And Jenny accomplished all of this while maintaining the serenity, beauty, and sense of an oasis that has been intrinsic to the museum since its inception. We celebrate Jenny’s tenure and look forward to building on her transformative achievements.”
Among Dixon’s most notable achievements while at the museum were overseeing the completion of the renovation of the institution’s 27,000-square-foot building and sculpture garden and obtaining accreditation from the Alliance of American Museums. She also initiated a regular schedule of special exhibitions and secured funding to digitize the museum’s collection of photographs, manuscripts, drawings, study collection, and archival materials.
Prior to joining the institution, Dixon was executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1999–2003), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (1986–97), and director of the Public Art Fund (1977–86), where she first met and worked with Isamu Noguchi on the artist’s first project to be installed on public land in New York City, a sculpture titled Unidentified Object that was sited in Central Park’s Doris Freedman Plaza from December 13, 1979, through January 13, 1981, and is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view at the south end of the museum’s plaza.
“It has been my extraordinary good fortune to lead the Noguchi Museum for the past fourteen years,” Dixon said. “It is an amazing place, and my years here have been among the most gratifying of my career, a capstone to some forty years of active engagement in New York City’s cultural life and a transition to the next phase of my life and work.”