Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Museum Of Modern Art, NYC
11 West 53rd Street (Between 5th and 6th Ave), NY, NY
Architecture by Yoshio Taniguchi
Renovated in 2004, Photographed in 2010
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has been singularly important in developing and collecting
modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world.
The idea for The Museum of Modern Art was originated by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr.). In 1925, she started collecting Modern and European Art to decorate her own homes. Later, she turned a part of her apartment into a gallery. It was called the Topside Gallery. It was on the 7th floor of her home on 44th street. The room itself, the gallery was intimate, sort of like a nicer version of parent's living room. There, she was able to express her personality through those arts. Her taste went into folk art, modern art, she had a particular fondness for Henri Matisse. According to her biography, she loved experimentation, was open to new ideas. She wished to branch this out a little further, and provide a way to support artists and present these arts to the public.
However her husband was not supportive to any of those. In fact, he opposed it. He thought it was too
extravagant. Accoring to her biography, in 1933, her husband hired a couple of doctors to say she was
having a nervous breakdown that she needed to be in a bed for months. Two of her sons confirmed that
was made up. However that didn't stop Abby from working on a museum. There were moments that she popped out the bed, get as much done as possible, and jump back into the bed, and do the sick routine. Apparently she worked around it. She eventually came across two of the lady friends, who worked on the foundation of the museum with, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan.
They became known variously as "the Ladies", "the daring ladies" and "the adamantine ladies". They
rented modest quarters for the new museum and it opened to the public on November 7, 1929, nine days after the Wall Street Crash.
The first director, Alfred H. Barr Jr., was a 27 years-old promising young protege. From that position, he was one of the most influential forces in the development of popular attitudes toward modern art; He
expanded the meaning of the word "modern art". To him it included film, design, architecture, and
photography. He actively and purposely used that definition when he did the exhibits, and shocked a lot
of people. Today, MOMA reflects what he was doing back then. His achievements accumulated
quickly; the Museum held its first loan exhibition in November, on the Post-Impressionists Van Gogh,
Cézanne, Gauguin, and Seurat. Perhaps Barr's most memorable and enduring accomplishment in his
directorial capacity was the Picasso retrospective of 1939-1940, which caused a reinterpretation of the
artist's work and established the model for all future retrospectives at the Museum.
MoMA's midtown location underwent extensive renovations in the early 2000s, closing on May 21,
2002. From June 29, 2002 until September 27, 2004, a portion of its collection was on display in what
was dubbed MoMA QNS, a former Swingline staple factory in the Long Island City section of Queens.
Museum re-opened on Nov 20th, 2004, MoMA's reopening brought controversy as its admission cost
increased from US$12 to US$20, making it one of the most expensive museums in the city; however it
has free entry on Fridays after 4pm, thanks to sponsorship from Target Stores.
To view more photographs, visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.