Founded in 1929 on the idea of providing the best modern art museum in the world, the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan has been redefined through its recent expansion. VOA's Joseph Mok reports on the newly-renovated MoMA; Elaine Lu narrates.
Today, MoMA occupies a space more than 58,000 square meters, almost double its original size and capacity before the expansion project from 2002 to 2004.
In order to transform MoMA's original buildings and additions into a unified whole, the museum conducted a worldwide search for an architect to carry out their vision. Peter Reed is MoMA's Senior Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs.
"You are visiting the newly expanded MOMA. We nearly doubled in size with this new building by Yoshio Taniguchi. There was something of an international -- not quite a competition -- but the museum invited 10 architects to make a kind of a proposal. And it was to get an idea how these architects think. In other words, we weren't asking for a blueprint of MOMA but how might you approach the idea of designing a modern art museum,” Mr. Reed told us. “That list of ten was then reduced to three finalists. And Yoshio Taniguchi was one of them. In the end, the trustees selected Taniguchi to design this building."
Taniguchi takes inspiration from the streets in New York City for the lobby design. The interior promenade offers expansive views of the Sculpture Garden and the light-filled atrium, which soars almost 34 meters above street level. The lobby houses the information center and ticket counters. It also provides access to the museum's theaters, restaurant, stores, and Sculpture Garden.
Among all the expansion and renovation, Taniguchi considers the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden the most distinctive single element of the museum. He preserved Philip Johnson's original 1953 design, but enlarged the garden and re-established the southern terrace. Views of modern sculptures, lush plants, and the reflection pool of the garden are now available from numerous vantage points throughout the Museum.
The new David and Peggy Rockefeller Building houses the museum's main collection and temporary exhibition galleries. Spacious galleries for contemporary art are located on the second floor; while smaller, more intimately scaled galleries for the main collection are on the levels above. Expansive, sky-lit galleries for temporary exhibitions are located on the top floor.
MoMA's collections are divided into six broad categories:
Architecture and Design Collection
Established in 1932, the architecture and design collection is the world's first curatorial department devoted to this category. The architecture collection documents buildings through models, drawings, and photographs. The design collection includes more than 3,000 objects, ranging from appliances, furniture, and tableware to tools, textiles, sports cars and even a helicopter. The collection provides an extensive overview of modernism.
Some of the most renowned paintings and drawings from the 19th to the 21st century are among MoMA's collections.
- Claude Monet's culminating work from his career, the triptych "Water Lilies" covers a length of 6 meters of the wall. Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" paved the way for expressionist paintings to come. Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", is perhaps the single most influential work in the history of modern art. Paul Cezanne's watercolor "Foliage" explores colors and lines, leaving almost an unfinished impression. Andy Warhol's iconic "Golden Marilyn Monroe", captures the glamorous yet transient legend of American popular culture. Edward Hopper's "House by the Railroad" expresses a consistent theme of his works: loneliness. Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World” is probably one of the most familiar American paintings of the 20th century.
And the list goes on. Familiar as these works may seem to visitors, curators of MoMA emphasize the idea of revisiting artworks.
"When I can, during the day or during the week, (I) take time out and to spend time in the galleries,” says Reed. “It might be in the painting gallery. There is a sense of revisiting, which I think is very important to stress for us as curators and for the visitors. Is it enough to say, ‘Oh, I saw that Jackson Pollack painting. I've seen it. Been there. Done that.’ What I like to do is revisit it. Look at it again and again and again and study it. And sometimes you see things differently. Sometimes, it's the relationship of how that work is installed in relationship to another work in the gallery. And I think this is important. This idea of looking repeatedly at works of art is important."
Intertwining dynamic architectural expression and brilliant exhibitions throughout the year, today's MoMA is more prepared to receive visitors around the world for a visit or a revisit.