Every Exhibition Held at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Presented in a New Web Site: 1929 to Present


Images cour­tesy of MoMA

We all hate it when we hear of an excit­ing exhi­bi­tion, only to find out that it closed last week — or 80 years ago. New York’s Muse­um of Mod­ern Art has made great strides toward tak­ing the sting out of such nar­row­ly or wide­ly-missed cul­tur­al oppor­tu­ni­ties with their new dig­i­tal exhi­bi­tion archive. The archive offers, in the words of Chief of Archives Michelle Ellig­ott, “free and unprece­dent­ed access to The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art’s ever-evolv­ing exhi­bi­tion his­to­ry” in the form of “thou­sands of unique and vital mate­ri­als includ­ing instal­la­tion pho­tographs, out-of-print exhi­bi­tion cat­a­logues, and more, begin­ning with MoMA’s very first exhi­bi­tion in 1929,” a show of post-Impres­sion­ist paint­ings by Cézanne, Gau­guin, Seu­rat, and Van Gogh.


The pho­to­graph of Andy Warhol’s Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe por­traits at the top of the post comes from a much more recent exhi­bi­tion, 2015’s Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Oth­er Works, 1953–1967. But MoMA, of course, did­n’t just just dis­cov­er the king of pop art last year: search by his name and you’ll find no few­er than 128 shows that have includ­ed his work, start­ing with Recent Draw­ings U.S.A. in 1956.

You can track any num­ber of oth­er cul­tur­al icons through the muse­um’s his­to­ry: Yoko Ono, for instance, a view of whose One Woman Show, 1960–1971, which also opened in 2015, appears above, but whose work you can see in eleven dif­fer­ent exhi­bi­tions archived online.


A look through even a frac­tion of the 3,500 shows whose mate­ri­als MoMA has so far made avail­able (and pub­lic-domain) reveals a the­mat­ic vari­ety through­out the muse­um’s entire exis­tence: not just indi­vid­ual artists or groups of them, but fast cars (the idea of a “ratio­nal auto­mo­bile” in gen­er­al in the 1960s and the Jaguar E‑Type in par­tic­u­lar in the 90s), trav­el postersJapan­ese archi­tec­ture (fea­tur­ing an entire tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese house built in and shipped from Nagoya for the occa­sion), and the font Hel­veti­ca. You can also have a look at the mate­ri­als archived from the var­i­ous film series and per­for­mance pro­grams they’ve put on over the years.


This sort of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion demon­strates that MoMA has, since that moment in the late 1920s when “a small group of enter­pris­ing patrons of the arts joined forces to cre­ate a new muse­um devot­ed exclu­sive­ly to mod­ern art,” remained as excit­ing an insti­tu­tion as ever. But noth­ing can replace the expe­ri­ence of actu­al­ly going there and see­ing its exhi­bi­tions in per­son, which is why, when­ev­er I pay a vis­it to its dig­i­tal archive, I’ll also click over to its cal­en­dar of upcom­ing shows. For 86 years, it has giv­en the pub­lic the chance to expe­ri­ence the thrill of the mod­ern, but as a trip through the dig­i­tal archive reveals, the thrill of the mod­ern goes much deep­er than the shock of the new.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Puts Online 65,000 Works of Mod­ern Art

Kids Record Audio Tours of NY’s Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (with Some Sil­ly Results)

Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Launch­es Free Course on Look­ing at Pho­tographs as Art

The Guggen­heim Puts Online 1600 Great Works of Mod­ern Art from 575 Artists

Free: The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art and the Guggen­heim Offer 474 Free Art Books Online

Down­load Over 300+ Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

The His­to­ry of Mod­ern Art Visu­al­ized in a Mas­sive 130-Foot Time­line

Art Crit­ic Robert Hugh­es Demys­ti­fies Mod­ern Art in The Shock of the New

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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