From an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing, The Museum of Modern Art's collection has grown to include more than 135,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects. MoMA also owns some 14,000 films and four million film stills, as well as 140,000 books, artist books, and periodicals, all part of the Museum's library. Founded in 1929 in order to help people understand and enjoy the visual arts of our time, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City was the world's first museum dedicated to the education and enjoyment of modern art. MoMA's rich and varied collection constitutes one of the most comprehensive and panoramic views into modern art in the world. Aside from the Museum's permanent collection, the Museum also maintains an active schedule of exhibitions highlighting significant recent developments in the modern visual arts and new interpretations of major modern artists and art historical movements.
In November of 2004, the Museum reopened after a three year building project headed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. This rebuilding effort represents MoMA’s most extensive redefinition since its founding seventy-five years ago. The Museum combines new spaces with MoMA’s original architecture to dramatically enhance its dynamic collection of modern and contemporary art. The new 630,000-square-foot Museum has nearly twice the capacity of the former facility. The six-story David and Peggy Rockefeller Gallery Building houses the main collection and temporary exhibition galleries. Taniguchi worked closely with curators to refine his concept into a design that would expertly accommodate the type and scale of works displayed. Spacious galleries for contemporary art are located on the second floor, with more intimately scaled galleries for the collection on the levels above. Expansive, sky-lit galleries for temporary exhibitions are located on the top floor. MoMA’s Film and Media program resumes in the two refurbished Titus Theaters, located below the lobby level. For the first time, admission to a New York museum would cost $20, and howls were heard from many. However, thanks to Bloomberg News, visitors can now utilize audioguides for free, and frankly the museum is well worth the high price of admission.
In the expanded Museum Lobby, Taniguchi takes inspiration from the unique vitality of the streets of midtown Manhattan. This bustling interior promenade connects Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth Streets and offers spectacular views of both The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden and a light-filled atrium that soars 110 feet above street level. The lobby also serves as the Museum’s “information center,” with multiple ticket counters; information about membership, exhibitions, and programs; and access to the Museum’s theaters, restaurant, stores, and garden.
Masterworks of modern sculpture, seasonal plantings, and reflecting pools once again welcome visitors to the beloved Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, which Taniguchi identified as “perhaps the most distinctive single element of the Museum today.” The architect preserved Philip Johnson’s original 1953 design and re-established the garden’s southern terrace to create an elegant outdoor patio for The Modern, the Museum’s new fine-dining restaurant.
Interior work continues on MoMA’s new, eight-story Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building. When complete, it will offer five times more space for educational and research activities, including an expanded Library and Archives, a reading room, a 125-seat auditorium, workshop space for teacher training programs, study centers, and a lobby with magnificent views of the Sculpture Garden.