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When we speak about establishments dedicated to modern art, what may first come to our minds is the Museum of Modern Art. Located in Midtown Manhattan in the City of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA for short, is the largest and leading museum of modern art in the world. Its numerous paintings, sculpture, photographs, prints, drawings, film stills, design objects, architectural models and other items that are considered to be modern and contemporary art attract millions of visitors to the MoMA every year.
The MoMA started out as a vision shared by three strong-willed women, namely Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Quinn Sullivan (Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan) and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.). These three women saw the need to challenge the policies imposed by traditional museums in what is considered art. Teaming up with A. Conger Goodyear, the former president of the Albright Art Gallery’s board of trustees, as well as with Alfred H. Bart, Jr. as the founding director, the MoMA got a modest start in the 1929 with a gift of only eight prints and one drawing on exhibit.
Over the years, the MoMA slowly expanded its collections from this initial gift. In a period of ten years, the museum is to move its location three times in order to make room for its growing collection. In 1939, it opened the doors to its permanent building in Manhattan for the first time. Currently, the MoMA is home to some 150,000 paintings and pieces of sculpture, drawings, prints and other items considered to be specimens of modern and contemporary art. Also included in MoMA’s collection are approximately 22,000 films, video, media works, posters, scripts and historical documents, as well as 300,000 books and periodicals. The MoMA has the most extensive and varied collection of pieces belonging to modern art. These pieces are divided into six curatorial departments, namely:
Architecture and Design
- . This collection was built on the premise that architecture and design are two concepts that go hand-in-hand. Covering major movements that defined 20th century movements and issues in architecture and design, the collection consists of 3,000 objects, including furniture, cars, appliances, tools and textiles. There are also 4,000 examples of posters, prints and typography in this collection.
Drawings. This collection consists of around 6,000 drawings created on paper using pencil, ink, charcoal and watercolor. Collages and other works in mixed media are also included.
Film and Media. MoMA’s Film Library is home to 22,000 films and four million film stills, fully covering all periods and genres in film history. Included in the collection are original negatives that belonged to the Biograph and Edison companies.
Painting and Sculpture. The painting and sculpture collection has 3,200 pieces created by various prominent names in the art world of the late nineteenth century. Among the artworks included here are those by Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.
Photography. The photography collection of MoMA is considered to be the most important in the world, with some of its 25,000 pieces dating back to the 1840s. The collection showcases not merely photographs taken by artists, but also by scientists, journalists and amateurs.
Prints and Illustrated Books. This 50,000-piece collection traces the development of modern techniques used in print and publication, ranging from the traditional woodcut to various etchings, lithographs, screen prints and even digital prints.
For the visitor to New York City with an eye for modern art, a trip to the Museum of Modern Art is a definite must.