2013 | 54 | 206-216
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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), located in Manhattan in New York City, is the most famous museum devoted entirely to modern and contemporary art. It has the largest and most comprehensive collection of paintings and sculptures from the late nineteenth century to the present. Over its 84 years in existence, MoMA has organized more than 2000 exhibitions. Its mandate of promoting contemporary art requires it to continually evolve and innovate. In the early twentieth century, traditional genre painting and realism dominated American art, but new artistic trends were starting to form. In 1913, a group of young artists independently organized the “Armory Show”, an exhibition of contemporary artists from Europe and the United States, opening the eyes of Americans to new forms of art.In 1929, three fans and collectors of modern art decided to establish a museum dedicated to promoting the latest artistic trends. The founders were three women: Abby Rockefeller, the wife of the oil-magnate; Lillie Bliss, daughter of a clothing entrepreneur; and Mary Sullivan, an art teacher and wife of a wealthy lawyer. Alfred Barr, a 27-year-old art historian was appointed as the first director. MoMA opened on November 7, 1929, to great success. With about six well-attend exhibitions each year, the museum began to shape the tastes of the American public. In the first few years, MoMA had few of its own artifacts. It slowly began to form its own collection thanks to art and funding donations from Lillie Bliss, Olga Guggenheim and the Rockefeller family. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the museum had amassed over one million artifacts. Although maintaining its collection was costly, the museum continued finding new art to uphold its goal of promoting the latest artistic trends.Apart from an extensive painting and sculpture collection, MoMA’s collection features many other art forms, such as film, photography, prints, architecture and performance art. Initially, MoMA did not have a fixed location and moved several times. John Rockefeller, Abby’s husband, was a staunch opponent of modern art, but eventually relented and funded the construction of the first building. The building, designed by Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell-Stone, opened in 1939. Its international style – more fitting of an office building than a museum – symbolized the availability and versatility of modern art in modern society. Over the years, MoMA expanded into neighboring areas, adding a sculpture garden, administrative offices, a bookshop, auditorium and a restaurant. In 1997, the museum held a competition for a major reconstruction, which was won by Yoshio Taniguchi, from Japan. Museum re-opened its doors in 2004.The reconstruction nearly doubled the area of the museum (to 58,500 m2), cost $425 million, and doubled attendance to 1.8 million visitors a year. Through the years MoMA has stayed faithful to his founder’s idea, to promote modern art in America and provide high quality art education to youth generations. Each new decade brings new challenges and MoMA is actively pursuing to address them.
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