The Museum of Modern Art, typically referred to as the MoMA, was founded in 1929 by progressive and influential people of New York City’s society. Lillie P. Bliss, Cornelius J. Sullivan, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. wanted to challenge the conservative and tradition museums of the time. Together, the trio paired up with Conger Goodyear, Paul Sachs, Frank Crowninshield, and Josephine Boardman Crane, elected Alfred H. Barr, Jr. as the director, and created a museum dedicated to modern art.
Fortunately for the museum’s founders and the greater good art, the public was enthusiastic about the MoMA. The immense popularity led the MoMA to move three times into larger buildings. But, in 1939 the MoMA finally settled into the midtown Manhattan building that it currently resides in. The founding director, Barr, was instrumental in creating the multi-departmental structure that the MoMA is known for. The museum expanded again, under the supervision of Philip Johnson, throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Finally in 1984, Cesar Pelli helped the museum undergo a renovation that ultimately doubled the MoMA’s space, as well as enhancing the facilities used by visitors.
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The MoMA is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of modern art. When it was founded, the museum only had eight prints and one drawing. But, over the years, the museum has acquired over 150,000 pieces of art that includes paintings, sculptures, and design objects, among other types of art. There is also around 22,000 films, 4 million film stills, and 300,000 books that the MoMA owns.
Exhibitions at the MoMA are like any museum, as in the exhibitions are continuously evolving and changing. But, unlike most museums, the MoMA includes every exhibition, collection, and artist that has been featured in the museum since it was founded in 1929 to today, in its comprehensive free online database. Thus, the wonderful pieces of art that comes to the MoMA is accessible to everyone across the universe. Current exhibitions include; Francis Picabia: Our Heads are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, which showcases how Picabia continuously questioned the meaning of art and life, and Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter, which explores how architecture and design have dealt with emergencies, specifically the global refugee conflict.
Collection Galleries 1880s-1950s is one of the few collections that is continuously showcased. Located on the fifth floor, this gallery is structured in a chronological flow that highlights themes and stylistic movements. Popular sections of this gallery includes; the focus on Cubism, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet.
Sculpture from the Collection 1960-1969 is found within the MoMA’s Sculpture Garden and made their first debut in the museum’s 1960s showcase. Popular sculptures include Cubi X, which is David Smith’s abstract and geometric take on the human figure, and Sandy’s Butterfly, which is Alexander Calder’s 13-foot-tall sculpture full of colorful and liveliness. Other sculptures that are found within this collection include; Pablo Picasso’s She Goat, The River by Aristide Maillol, and the Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman.
Film series is another type of exhibition at the MoMA. Like the rest of the artwork, the films that are shown within the film series are continuously changing. Currently, the MoMa is showcasing two films, which are The Contenders and Modern Matinees: The Body Politics. The film series also has ongoing film collections, such as Modern Mondays. Modern Mondays allows various artists, with a variety of experience and popularity, to showcase their work. This eight-decade tradition values a variety of film genres, such as historical, avant-garde, and contemporary.
Education was extremely important to the founders of the MoMA, and it continues to be an important influence and factor for the current trustees and artists of the MoMA. While the MoMA is first and foremost an art museum, it is a renowned educational institution. The MoMA offers courses in the daytime, evening, and even online for anyone who has a passion and interest in art. Courses range from art history, art making, and how critical thinking applies to art. Anyone can take the courses at the MoMA, and that is reflected in the online courses that are instructor-led or self-guided. If teachers want to take the MoMA classes to their classroom, they can utilize the online course plans that are geared for K-12 teachers and students.
The MoMA’s educational opportunities are also available internationally. International residents can always utilize the online courses, but they also have the option to connect with museums and their staff worldwide. The C-Map and the International Curatorial Institute are international programs that enable museum staff to connect and interact with each from different points of the world. Currently, the MoMA participates in this initiative with relation to two major Russian museums, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Russian Museum. Through this program, selected members of each of the three museums have the chance to learn and visit the other corresponding museums. Thus, creating a professional and significant network among people who share the same passion for art.
The educational opportunities of the MoMA goes above and beyond the typical programs museums have to offer. Research is extremely important to the MoMA, which is reflected among the immense amount of research resources the MoMA offers to the general public. The Museum Archives are one of the most useful and renowned resources at the MoMA. Internationally recognized, the Archives serves as a center that collects and preserves 90 years of the MoMA’s historical records, primary source art documents, and a variety of private papers from artists, galleries, art historians, and critics. Without the Museum’s Archives, the MoMA wouldn’t be the educational art institution it values itself as.
Although the MoMA Archives are extensive and renowned, it can be a difficult and long process to become enabled to access them. So, if you want immediate and more accessible knowledge, then look to the Museum of Modern Art Library. This library has a comprehensive collection of over 300,000 books and catalogs that distinguish and explore various art forms, artists, and history of art. It is important to note that while the library is open to everyone, K through 12 students should complete their research at school, private libraries, or online before they look to the Museum of Modern Art Library.
The last educational initiative of the MoMA is at a remote location and is not open to the general public, but it is useful for college students, scholars, educational institutions, and people in the film field. The Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center is located in Hamlin, Pennsylvania, and is renowned as a top rank preservation center for collection the most important and significant film art. Over 25,000 films from the most successful and influential directors and creators resign at this center. Some of the directors and innovators features in this center are; Warner Bros., Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, and Tim Burton.
Like many museums, the MoMA offers a variety of special events that change every week. Although the exhibitions, artists, and guest speakers may change, the type of events the MoMA holds are typically the same. The MoMA typically has a few guest speakers a week, as well as a special performance from a dance company, theater, or musician, and daily specialized tours. Another popular event the MoMA does is host member early hours. Basically, MoMA members are allowed to visit and interact with designated exhibitions before the general public does. It is important to note that a lot of the special events that the MoMA holds seem to only be accessible to members, or are more convenient and cheaper for members. So, if you’re passionate about art and the MoMA, you should look into purchasing the $85 membership. Like any other museum or attraction, if you want to get the most out of your visit, you should look at their events calendar prior to your trip. Thus, you can adequately plan the events and exhibitions you want to view and explore.
Spending the day walking through the MoMA can be tiring. If you need a quick pick-me-up, or want to dine close to the museum, check out on of the three dining options that the museum offers; Café 2, Terrace 5, and The Modern. Café 2 is located on the second floor of the museum and is home to seasonal Italian foods, such as pastas, salads, and desserts. It even has an espresso bar! Terrace 5 offers a seasonal menu of savory foods and delicious desserts, as well as cocktails, wine, and beer. Finally, The Modern is a two Michelin star restaurant full of a la carte dining, decadent desserts, and a full bar. After eating at one of the restaurants, check out the MoMA’s flagship store, which features over 2,000 books, art reproductions, and exclusive items that everyone will enjoy.
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