Top 10 Secrets of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA)

More than two million people visit New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) each year – and it’s not hard to see why. This powerful art institution was the city’s first museum devoted exclusively to modern art. Inside its hallowed halls, it houses masterpieces by some of the greatest artists of all time, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, to name a few. Its sculpture garden designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson is an attraction in itself.

Following a $450 million expansion by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in conjunction with Gensler to their space on West 53rd St, which added 45,000 square feet of space in 2019, the museum has one-third the space of gallery longer than the original 80-year-old floor plan. The recent reopening allowed visitors to discover the new David Geffen wing – an expansion that occurred with the takeover of the former American Folk Art Museum on West 53rd Street. Visitors also have access to MoMA PS1, based just across the East River in Long Island City, Queens, with their ticket to MoMA. MoMA PS1 exclusively features works by contemporary artists – and was the first non-profit museum in the United States to focus solely on contemporary art. MoMA as an institution continues to grow bigger and more important than ever. Yet, even if you have visited the museum several times, you may have missed some of its most curious works or overlooked part of its history. We’ve unearthed ten fascinating secrets about the museum, from its founders to its contact with the Oscars.

1. MoMA was founded by three women

  • Abby AldrichRockefeller
  • Lillie P. happiness
  • Mary Quinn Sullivan

The MoMA is one of the most important art centers museums in New York – and was the city’s first museum dedicated to modern art. It may therefore be a little surprising that it was founded not by wealthy men like JP Morgan (one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but by three women. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan decided during a lunch in 1928 to create a museum focused on modern art, inspired by European institutions like the Luxembourg Museum in Paris.

Less than a year later, the Museum of Modern Art opened on the 12th floor of a Fifth Avenue office building. The museum depended on donations, as there was no money for purchases. The first works to join the collection were eight prints and drawings donated by Paul J. Sachs. When Lillie P. Bliss died, she bequeathed her collection of Post-Impressionist works, many of which are still on display at the museum today.

Next: #2 MoMA is located on the former site of the Rockefeller townhouse

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