Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh was name of the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art when it opened in the Heckscher Building at 730 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Since its opening—just 9 days after the great Wall Street crash of 1929—the Museum has presented more than 3,500 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, architecture and design, photography, film, performance, and new media.
I moved from Kansas to NYC in December of 1969. Once in the city, the first organization I joined was the YMCA. That membership was pretty much of a given—the 63rd Street Y was where I lived for the first 6 months of my new life in Manhattan. And most days, as a full-time student, I was in class from 9AM. to 4PM. Nights, after class, I worked in the stock transfer department of Bankers Trust Company on Lexington Avenue.
Although my wallet was razor thin in those days, I did manage to afford a second membership—it was to the Museum of Modern Art. Long before I moved to Manhattan, I’d read about MoMA in The New Yorker and it was the first museum I visited as a new resident of the city. I remember the MoMA exibitions of the 70s vividly. (The first show I saw there was Mark Rothko 1903-1970.)
Now, I can revisit my favorite MoMA exhibitions and learn more. And, so can you.
The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition history—1929 to the present—is available online. MoMA’s presentations include exhibition catalogues, primary documents, installation views, and an index of participating artists.
The exhibition history can be searched freely, or browsed in a more structured way by exhibition type or time period. Each exhibition page includes a list of participating artists, when available. Artist pages likewise list all of the exhibitions known to have included that artist, along with any of their works in MoMA’s collection online. Exhibition pages may also include installation views, an annotated checklist of included works, press releases, and the full exhibition catalogue. Exhibitions after 1995 may include exhibition subsites—the first of which was produced for Mutant Materials—as well as slideshows, related videos, and commissioned essays.
According to MoMA, The history resource was conceived and developed as a living archive rather than a one-off publication. Some exhibition pages have the full range of available materials, while others are limited to core information. The history will be continually updated, with new and upcoming shows appearing as soon as they are added to their calendar.
The exhibition history materials were compiled by a team of archivists who processed over 22,000 folders of exhibition records dating from 1929 to 1989. The Archives will process records from 1990 to 2000 over the next three years. Currently, more than 800 film series from the past decade are online, but not yet included are thousands of film series presented by MoMA’s Department of Film over its 80-year history. These records will be added in a future phase of the project, as will a history of performance art at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 and an exhibition history of MoMA PS1.
Learn more about the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition history.
Finally, it’s important to note that funding for the processing of The Museum of Modern Art exhibition records was generously provided by the Leon Levy Foundation.