Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City was America's premier museum devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary art, and the first of its kind in Manhattan to display European modernism. While this concept is repeated throughout the world today, MoMA was the first of its kind and established the canon for modern art museums, as well as created many standards and practices for general museum procedures and programs. MoMA’s collection includes more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects. The museum also owns over 22,000 films, videos, and media works, as well as film stills, scripts, posters and historical documents. Maintaining an organized digital record of these assets is paramount to MoMA’s standing as one of the world’s most reputable education and research centers for modern and contemporary art.


  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA
    Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
    Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889
    Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889
  • Henri Matisse, View of Notre-Dame, 1914
    Henri Matisse, View of Notre-Dame, 1914
  • Giorgio De Chirico, Love Song, 1914
    Giorgio De Chirico, Love Song, 1914
  • Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c.1920.  Image by Wikipedia Loves Art participant "trish". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
    Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c.1920. Image by Wikipedia Loves Art participant "trish". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The idea for the museum was first developed by a group of philanthropists, educators and museum curators Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller), Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, known in the social circles as “the daring ladies”. They envisioned a small museum whose primary purpose would be to educate the public on Modern art. For this purpose, they established a foundation to raise funds for the museum in New York.

The museum’s first location consisted of six gallery rooms on the 12th floor in midtown Manhattan's Heckscher building, and the Museum's first exhibit consisted of several paintings - all on loan - by the European Post-Impressionists van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, and Cézanne. Two years later, the museum moved into a rented space in its current location on West 53rd Street, Midtown Manhattan in New York City.  

Since then, the museum has undergone seven different expansions. The first building, by Woodwin and Stone (1939), was changed in the 50s and 60s through a series of projects by Philip Johnson, including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller sculpture garden. In 1984, Cesar Peli erected the Garden Wing and a residential tower with six of the museum’s floors extending beneath it. Taniguchi’s scheme (2004) marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Museum integrating all the existing structures into a unified accommodation. The new design realized a long-standing intention: an expanded museum modeled after a comprehensive building program (Lowry 2005) and offering ample space for its departments. It's comprised of a new gallery section under a ten-floor tower, the renovated buildings, the new Education Building, and seven floors in Cesar Peli’s tower. It houses ‘Contemporary Art’ on the second floor, ‘Architecture and Design’, on the third floor, ‘Painting and Sculpture’ on the fourth and fifth floors, and special exhibitions at the top level.

Considered to have one of the best collections of modern Western masterpieces in the world, MoMA's collection includes more than 150,000 individual pieces. The museum also owns over 22,000 films, videos, and media works, as well as film stills, scripts, posters and historical documents. The collection houses important and familiar works from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and many more. 

About. MoMA. Accessed 4/30/17. http://www.moma.org/about/history.

Elligott, Michelle. Perspectives from the Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. International Institute for Archival Science of Trieste and Maribor. 2008. Accessed 4/30/17. http://www.iias-trieste-maribor.eu/fileadmin/atti/2008/Elligott.pdf.

Grunenberg, Christoph. The Modern Art Museum. Michigan State University. Accessed 4/30/17. https://www.msu.edu/course/ha/240/modernartmuseum.pdf.

Message, Kylie. The Shock of the Re-newed Modern: MoMA 2004. University of Leicester. 2006. Accessed 4/30/17. https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies/museumsociety/documents/volumes/3message.pdf.