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museums The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art


Since its inception in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art has continually redefined the idea of the museum in contemporary Western culture. Originally conceived by its founders as a place for Modern art to come and go (because what makes up modernism is constantly changing), MoMA, as it is commonly known, established a permanent collection in 1952 and has become the home for some of the greatest works of avant-garde painting, sculpture, film and multi-media art in the world. While MoMA remains true to its roots as a place where new styles of art can circulate, its permanent collection is widely considered the most impressive and diverse assortment of Modern art to ever exist, ranging from late-19th-century van Goghs, Monets and Gauguins to works produced in the present day.

The idea of a Museum of Modern Art was once considered by critics to be an oxymoron. Its very existence posed the question: How can there be a museum (a permanent institution housing the heritage of human civilization) for Modern art (which embodies the ideal of always moving forward and constantly changing)? Rather than shy away from this paradox, MoMA has embraced its contradictory nature by appealing to both the history of Modernism and the legacy it continues to leave in the 21st century.

Founding principles

The idea for the museum was first developed by a group of philanthropists, educators and museum curators, led by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller), in 1928. They envisioned a modest-sized location in New York City that could essentially be a stop-over for some of Europe's finest Modern art.
Their mission for the museum was stated as, "encouraging and developing the study of Modern arts . . . and furnishing popular instruction."
The Museum of Modern Art was the first institution anywhere in the United States to devote itself exclusively to Modern art.


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