The collection
Radio receiver. Ovoid shaped speaker with a casing over the back, meant to look like an abstract head in an old-fashioned nurse’s cap, and horizontal sound openings across the front.

Shortwave Radio Receiver, Radio Nurse

Designed by
Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988)
Produced by
Zenith Radio Corporation, Chicago, Illinois.
21 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Eric Brill*, D90.101.1

Noguchi, a renowned Japanese-American sculptor, designed this shortwave radio to allow parents and caregivers to monitor infants or sick family members from outside the room—an ancestor of today’s baby monitors. Although primarily a sculptor influenced by Constantin Brancusi, in whose Paris studio he worked in the late 1920s, Noguchi experimented in a wide range of artistic expressions.

This included gardens, lighting, and furniture for Herman Miller and Knoll, as well as set designs for Martha Graham. His industrial products, including this Radio Nurse, which resembled a head in a nurse’s cap, were also sculptural, elevating mass-produced everyday objects to the level of works of art.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley. © 2019 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation & Garden Museum / SOCAN.