Museum of Modern Art

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MUSEUM OF MODERN ART. Through exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and ever-expanding permanent collections, the Museum of Modern Art, a nonprofit educational institution popularly known as MoMA, has been a leading shaper and challenger of American public taste. MoMA was the brainchild of Lillie P. Bliss, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and Mary Quinn Sullivan, who in May 1929 asked A. Conger Goodyear, the museum's first president, to chair a committee to organize a museum dedicated to contemporary art and its immediate predecessors. They appointed Alfred H. Barr Jr. director in August, and MoMA opened with its first loan exhibition on 8 November 1929. Barr, who retired as director of collections in 1967, was MoMA's intellectual guiding light.

MoMA includes six collecting departments: Painting and Sculpture, Architecture and Design (est. 1932 as the Architecture Department), Film and Media (est. 1935 as the Film Library), Photography (est. 1940), Prints and Illustrated Books (est. 1969), and Drawings (est. 1971). The Architecture and Design, Film, and Photography departments were the first of their kind in a museum. Several departments are among the world's strongest in depth and quality. Among MoMA's iconic paintings are Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night (1889), Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory (1931). Groundbreaking exhibitions organized by MoMA have included Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (1936), The Family of Man (1955), and "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art (1984). Educational programs have included tours, lectures, lending programs, the publication of guides and exhibition catalogs, and, during World War II, a number of war programs. Funding comes primarily through admission and membership fees, sales of services and publications, and contributions. MoMA has been particularly well endowed with donations of art from trustees and supporters, beginning with Bliss and Rockefeller.

Since 1932, MoMA's address has been 11 West Fifty-third Street in New York City, though it has expanded enormously by repeatedly acquiring adjacent property and undergoing major building projects completed in 1939, 1964, 1984, and (anticipated) 2005.


Kantor, Sybil Gordon. Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001.

Lynes, Russell. Good Old Modern: An Intimate Portrait of the Museum of Modern Art. New York: Atheneum, 1973.

Museum of Modern Art. The History and the Collection. New York: Abrams and the Museum of Modern Art, 1984.


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Museum of Modern Art

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