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New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the most preeminent contemporary art museums in the world. And yet, even though our beloved MoMA is tried and true, there is still much to know about it. Here’s our list of the ten things you probably didn’t know about MoMA.
MoMA was founded almost ninety years ago, in 1929, completely by donation, right after the infamous stock market crash of the same year.
The museum’s first loan exhibition featured works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Seurat and Gauguin. At the time it was rare to find such established artists displayed in New York, and the event was a catalyst for the museum’s prestigious stature.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was a leading force in founding the museum, and donated a piece to its original collection, a painting by Henri Matisse. The museum’s famed sculpture garden is named after her.
When it first opened in 1929, the museum occupied six rooms on the twelfth floor the historic Hercksler Building. It then moved to three other temporary locations before finally opening in the current building in 1939.
The museum’s flagship restaurant, The Modern, is a veritable dining destination in New York. The elegant space’s ingredient-driven, seasonal menus have earned it four James Beard Foundation Awards, three stars from The New York Times, and two Michelin Stars.
The most famous artwork in the museum’s collection is likely Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, which was painted in 1889. But a close runner-up is Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.
MoMA’s immense private collection includes 200,000 works of art from paintings and sculptures to photographs, drawings and more. There are more than 2 million pieces in the museum’s collection of film stills.
In 2000, MoMA merged with the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens. Together, the two museums became the single largest platform for contemporary art in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.
In 2010 P.S. 1 became MoMA PS1 to more accurately reflect the relationship between the two institutions. Although MoMA is the sole corporate member in PS1, MoMA PS1 retains complete creative autonomy.
Because MoMA offers free admission on Friday afternoons at 4 pm, one of the best times to visit the museum is between noon and 4 on Friday when crowds are thin.
In 2019, the museum will open a vast new expansion to its original building. There will be 50,000 square feet of new gallery space, and major alterations to current galleries as well—increasing overall gallery space by a whopping third.
Planning a New York getaway? Get more insider tips on The Knick’s NYC Travel Guide.