Visit Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Musueum near Joshua Tree
“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” does not ring any truer than at the Noah Purifoy Desert Museum of Assemblage Sculpture. This outdoor museum near Joshua Tree National Park is a mosaic of items thought of as trash that have been transformed into works of art. Go on a self-guided tour to view over 30 assemblage sculptures throughout two acres of lot. Grab a brochure as you begin the tour to find the names of the prominent pieces and get commentary on culture and Purifoy’s perspectives of the world.
Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) was an African American artist born and raised in Alabama. He came to California in his late thirties to earn an art degree from CalArts. His earliest sculpture was constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts Rebellion, which was a result of nationwide racial tensions. From then on Purifoy devoted his life to enacting social good through art. In the 1980s Purifoy moved to the Mojave Desert to build large-scale sculptures entirely from discarded materials.
Assemblage art is a medium that typically uses found objects and combines them to make something entirely new. And as you’ll see from Purifoy’s innovative and otherworldly work, nothing was off limits for use in a sculpture.
The museum is currently run by the Noah Purifoy Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1999. It’s a volunteer-run foundation dedicated to preserving the desert sculpture site that Purifoy established in the last years of his life.
From the I-10 east take Exit 62 for Hwy. 62. When you arrive in Yucca Valley watch for Yucca Mesa St. and turn left. After 4 miles turn right onto Aberdeen. After about 4.5 miles, turn left on Center St. Take the first right onto Blair Ln. (graded dirt road). You will see the sculpture site on your left. Parking will be on your right.
Story and photos by Ben Replogle, @big_mountain_moose
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