Museum of Modern Art

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, established and incorporated in 1929. It is privately supported. Alfred H. Barr, Jr., was its first director. Operating at first in rented galleries, the museum specialized in loan shows of contemporary European and American art. A start toward its permanent collection was made with the Lillie P. Bliss bequest, which included nine Cézannes and the Daumier Washerwoman. Its present collection, which includes more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphics, photographs, videos, architectural drawings and models, and design objects, represents one of the finest groups of modern and contemporary art in the world. MoMA's merger (2000) with P.S. 1, a contemporary art space in Long Island City, Queens, gave the museum a greater connection to avant-garde art. MoMA also has outstanding departments of photography and architecture, an extensive reference library and archives, and a large film library.

A permanent building, boxy and in the International Style, designed by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone was erected in midtown Manhattan in 1939. A new wing designed by Philip Johnson was added in 1964, and the building was renovated and expanded again in 1984 by Cesar Pelli and Associates, principally with the addition of a 52-story residential tower. MoMA Manhattan quarters were subsequently enlarged and redesigned (2002–4) by the Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi in a highly refined modernist style. Among the museum's new features are a central atrium, skylit and soaring to 110 ft (33.5 m), expanded galleries and office space, an enlarged sculpture garden, and an eight-story education and research building completed in 2006. In preparation for this work the collection was moved to Long Island City in 2002 and housed in a former factory building, dubbed MoMA QNS, that had been reconfigured by the architect Michael Maltzan. The Queens space is now used as a storage and study facility.

See catalog of paintings in the permanent collection by H. Frank (1973); R. Lynes, Good Old Modern: An Intimate Portrait of the Museum of Modern Art (1973); S. Hunter, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1984, repr. 1997); G. D. Lowry, MOMA Highlights: 325 Works from The Museum of Modern Art (2002); J. Elderfield, ed., Modern Painting and Sculpture: 1880 to the Present from The Museum of Modern Art (2004).

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