The Museum of Modern Art is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is dedicated to the conversation between the past and the present, the established and the experimental. Our mission is helping you understand and enjoy the art of our time.
From an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing, The Museum of Modern Art’s collection has grown to include 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects. MoMA also owns some 22,000 films, videos, and media works, as well as film stills, scripts, posters and historical documents. The Museum’s Library contains 300,000 books, artist books, and periodicals, and the Museum Archives holds approximately 2,500 linear feet of historical documentation and a photographic archive of tens of thousands of photographs, including installation views of exhibitions and images of the Museum’s building and grounds.
Architecture and Design
The world’s first curatorial department devoted to architecture and design was established in 1932 at The Museum of Modern Art. From its inception, the collection has been built on the recognition that architecture and design are allied and interdependent arts, so that synthesis has been a founding premise of the collection. Including 28,000 works ranging from large-scale design objects to works on paper and architectural models, the Museum’s diverse Architecture and Design collection surveys major figures and movements from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Starting with the reform ideology established by the Arts and Crafts movement, the collection covers major movements of the twentieth century and contemporary issues. The architecture collection documents buildings through models, drawings, and photographs, and includes the Mies van der Rohe Archive. The design collection comprises thousands of objects, ranging from appliances, furniture, and tableware to tools, textiles, sports cars—even a helicopter. The graphic design collection includes noteworthy examples of typography, posters, and other combinations of text and image.
Drawings and Prints
One of the most comprehensive collections of twentieth-century drawings anywhere, MoMA’s holdings bring together more than 10,000 works on paper. These include a historical range of drawings in pencil, ink, and charcoal, as well as watercolors, gouaches, collages, and works in mixed mediums. Prints have been an integral part of the Museum since its inception in 1929, with eight prints being among the very first works to enter the collection. Today, the department’s holdings have grown to include more than 53,000 works dating from the 1880s to the present, forming the most comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary prints and illustrated books in the world. While traditional techniques such as woodcut, etching, lithography, and screenprint form the core of the collection, newer digital processes, multiples, and artist’s books are also collected in breadth and depth. The important role of printmaking in artists’ creative process is reflected in the inclusion of numerous states and working proofs, comprising one of the unique strengths of the collection. Christophe Cherix is The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints.
Founded in 1935 as the Film Library, this department’s collection now includes more than 22,000 films and four million film stills; the strongest international film collection in the United States, it incorporates all periods and genres. Among the holdings are original negatives of the Biograph and Edison companies, and the world’s largest collection of D. W. Griffith films. The film collection is stored in the Museum’s Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 1996. Rajendra Roy is The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film.
Media and Performance Art
The Department of Media and Performance Art collects, exhibits, and preserves time-based art. The department’s focus includes moving images, film installations, video, performance, motion- and sound-based works, and other works that represent time or duration and are made for and presented in a gallery setting. Media-specific preservation needs, like securing equipment, updating exhibition-mode technology, and developing ways to re-create duration-based presentations, are part of the department’s mission. The Museum began to pioneer the collection and exhibition of time-based art in the 1960s, and established the Department of Media in 2006. Its holdings date from approximately 1960 to the present. Stuart Comer is Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art.
Painting and Sculpture
The Museum of Modern Art is the repository of the world’s largest and most inclusive collection of modern painting and sculpture, comprising some 3,600 works dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The collection represents a comprehensive overview of the major artists and movements since the 1880s, from Paul Cézanne’s The Bather (c. 1885) and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889) to contemporary masterworks. Ann Temkin is The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) began collecting modern photography in 1930 and established the department in 1940. The Museum’s holdings of more than 25,000 works constitute one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary photography in the world. As diverse as photography itself, the collection includes work not only by artists, but also by journalists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and amateurs. Quentin Bajac is The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography.