The Museum of Modern Art: New York's Premier Cultural Stop
The image of New York has always been one of America’s greatest exports. From Frank Sinatra to Sarah Jessica Parker, the city that never sleeps has at been the centre of the entertainment and art industry for the better part of the twentieth century. At the forefront of this cultural scene is The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), founded as the first New York gallery dedicated exclusively to modern art in 1929.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, Abby Aldrich Rockerfeller was among the first patrons of MOMA, and her influential position as part of the Rockerfeller family helped to cement its exclusive status. Opening with only eight paintings and a drawing, MOMA’s first director, Alfred H. Barr Jr, was quick to see its potential as a sphere for exposing new forms of modern art, claiming: “This museum is a torpedo moving through time, its head the ever-advancing present, its tail the ever-receding past of 50 to 100 years ago.”
What made MOMA so unique for much of the last century was its constant change of location: between 1929 it moved location three times in ten years, before its permanent home was opened to the public in May 1939. Between 2002 to 2004, MOMA was temporarily closed as its building was redesigned by the celebrated Japanese architect, Yoshio Taniguchi. While Taniguchi’s design was initially controversial, it has since been lauded as one of the city’s most exemplary features of contemporary architecture, making the museum itself, as well as its collection, a piece of modern art to behold.
MOMA’s collection houses some of the most celebrated pieces in the art world, including ‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ and Frida Kahlo’s ‘Self Portrait with Cropped Hair’. It is also home to the works of a multiplicity of celebrated American modern artists, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol included. While its paintings are highlights in the history of modern art, its art photography collection is also one of the most important in the world, with works by Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky.
MOMA’s seminal position in any tour of New York makes it a clear stop in the itinerary of any fan of modern art, and its uniquely accessible nature means that even novices will be enthralled by the artistic delights it has to offer. A stone’s throw away from New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel means that luxury accommodation is right at your doorstep. The hotel itself will please any modern art and architecture fans: its first home on 5th Avenue, on the site of what is now the Empire State Building, was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, also responsible for New York’s Plaza Hotel and The Dakota apartment building. Its current location dates from 1931, an Art Deco landmark designed by Shultz and Weaver. The hotel is ideally placed for modern art fans, located close to the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as MOMA.
Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club.
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