Every good tourist should come to New York not only for the sights, but also for the culture. A great choice to enrich your cultural horizons is a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, which was founded in 1929 and is thus one of the oldest museums of its kind in the world.
Abby Rockefeller – the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr. got the idea to found the museum when she met her friend Lillie P. Bliss in 1928 in Cairo, Egypt. Both agreed at the time that America lacked a museum focused on modern art and sculpture. They also began to think about where the works that other museums refuse to exhibit are actually stored. A third lady, Mary Quinn Sullivan, subsequently joined their deliberations. Together, they decided to promote their idea of creating a new museum and turn their plans into reality.
According to Act-test-centers, these three women became known by the nicknames “ladies” or “brave ladies”. Before long, museum property administrator and collector A. Conger Goodyear and art historian Paul J. Sachs were involved in their plans. They rented an apartment on the twelfth floor of the Heckcher Building for their new museum. The renowned art expert Alfred H. Barr Jr. became the director of this small gallery, who tried to constantly expand the museum. It was first opened to the public on November 7, 1929, just nine days after the New York Stock Exchange crash. On display were paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Seurat. The Museum of Modern Art was thus the first American museum devoted exclusively to modern art and the first of its kind to exhibit European modernism in Manhattan.
In 1932, the museum moved to a townhouse on West 53rd Street, where it remains today—only in a different building. Four years later, architects Edward Durell and Philip Goodwin were commissioned to design a new building for the museum on the same street. Although Abby Rockefeller’s husband was initially against the museum and refused to fund the project, he eventually donated the land on which it stands today to the museum. Later, other numerous grants from Rockefeller made him one of the museum’s biggest patrons. The new museum could thus be opened as early as 1939. The building had a facade made of glass and marble and was the first example of the international style in the country. The grand opening to the public was held on May 10, 1939 and was attended by about 6,000 people.
The museum became known and famous mainly thanks to the exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s works in 1935, as well as the famous and successful Picasso and his retrospective in 1939-1940. Moreover, in 1939, Abby Rockefeller’s son Nelson became the president of the museum. His brother David subsequently became governor of New York in 1958 and took over the chairmanship of the museum from his brother. David hired architect Philip A. Johnson to redesign the museum garden and named it the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden in honor of his mother. The last major renovation of the museum took place in 2002 under the direction of architect Yoshio Taniguchi. It was from Abby Rockefeller’s garden that he created the focal point of the entire museum. The garden is thus bordered by the building of the new gallery and the city skyline. The garden was expanded, supplemented with places to sit, ponds, seasonal plants and it is crossed by paths suitable for walking. The garden and its sculptures have thus become a great place to relax after a demanding tour of the museum.
The Museum of Modern Art was newly opened in 2005 and currently its exhibition space covers 3,700 square meters. Works can be seen here that have never been exhibited before due to lack of space. You can view exhibits from all six major departments – Films and Media, Prints and Illustrated Books, Architecture and Design, Drawings, Photographs, Paintings and Sculptures. These are representative works of Cubism, Surrealism, Abstraction, Futurism, Paris School, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. The most famous exhibits here include Pablo Picasso’s Misses of Avignon, as well as paintings by van Gogh, Chagall, Dalí, Pollock, Bacon and other great figures of 20th century art. In total, you will find here more than 150 thousand paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs, 1200 paintings by 500 artists from 39 countries, 22 thousand films and videos.
The museum pioneered the documentation of photographs in the 1930s, collecting and exhibiting them much earlier than other major museums. In 1955, the first photography exhibition called The Family of Man was held here, which was one of the most successful exhibitions ever, and therefore went on a world tour. She managed to comprehensively summarize humanity itself. Now the museum manages more than 25,000 works, which form one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary photography in the world.
Today, the Museum of Modern Art plays an important role in the development and collection of modernist art and is often referred to as one of the most influential modern art museums in the world.