ST. LOUIS — Much like tourists in the Sistine Chapel, customers who walk into U-Haul Moving & Storage at Kingshighway can’t help but turn their attention immediately to the ceiling because, just like Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling at this U-Haul Store also is a work of art. The “undulated lobby ceiling” at the Kingshighway location is the creation of Isamu Noguchi.
The famous artist sculpted the project in the 1940s, when the American Stove Company—makers of Magic Chef appliances—occupied the building.
The amoeba-shaped channels of Noguchi’s design were meant to conceal light bulbs. It came at a time when Noguchi was experimenting with “lunar landscapes” to show what the moon might look like. Keep in mind, this was 1945, many years before anyone landed on the moon.
Last of its kind
The ceiling sculpture at the U-Haul location in St. Louis is the only remaining structure depicting Noguchi’s “lunar landscapes.” But until recently, it wasn’t on display. U-Haul purchased the property in 1977, and sometime in the 1990s, the amoeba-shaped channels were covered up by a false ceiling.
Over the years, people would occasionally come by and ask to see Noguchi’s concealed sculpture, which could be revealed partially by lifting some of the drop ceiling tiles. But that didn’t really do justice to the work of art hidden by the false ceiling, so U-Haul Company of St. Louis Marketing Company President Steve Langford decided in November 2015 to restore the sculpture. After a careful process, the original ceiling was unveiled to great fanfare in March 2016.
“We welcome people to come in and view Mr. Noguchi’s masterpiece,” Langford emphasized.
If you’re in the area and want to check out this work of art for yourself, here’s the address:
1641 S. Kingshighway Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
Have you seen this or any other of Noguchi’s works of art around the world? Tell us about it, or even show us some pictures, in the comments section!