A major New York landmark for nearly a century now, the Museum of Modern Art is home to a number of masterpieces by some of the most acclaimed artists who ever lived. Located between 5th and 6th Avenues in the heart of midtown Manhattan, MoMA (as its often called) is widely considered one of the most important collections of modern art found anywhere in the world. Most years it welcomes over a million visitors, who come from all over to enjoy the museum’s priceless paintings, sculptures, design elements, and more.
History of the Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1929 under the direction of a group of wealthy art patrons led by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, wife of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Their vision was to establish a brand-new institution devoted to championing the finest contemporary art. Its debut solo show was the first extensive exhibition of the works of Henri Matisse to be staged in the United States. Over the course of the following decade MoMA would host groundbreaking exhibits dedicated to major figures like Vincent van Gogh, Diego Rivera, and Pablo Picasso, and see its reputation grow rapidly.
MoMA moved into its permanent home on West 53rd Street in the spring of 1939. Originally designed by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone in the so-called “International Style,” the building has undergone numerous expansions and renovations in the intervening years. The latest of these extensive projects took place in 2019, and saw the museum add nearly 50,000 square feet of gallery space to its already impressive footprint.
What’s at the Museum of Modern Art
MoMA’s collection consists of over 200,000 distinct pieces by artists from all over the world. Its holdings range from classic works dating back nearly 150 years to cutting-edge selections from today’s most visionary artists. The Museum of Modern Art casts a wide net stylistically, too: you’ll find artworks in all manner of genres, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, films, performance art pieces, and more.
Particular highlights of MoMA’s remarkable collection include Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, and Jasper John’s Flag, as well as notable works by Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Dorothea Lange—just to name a few. New works by talented contemporary artists are regularly added to the collection, too.
There are a variety of amenities for visitors to the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA is home to three unique dining experiences. For those guests desiring a high-end meal in an elegant setting, The Modern is MoMA’s Michelin star-winning restaurant. There you’ll find contemporary American fare available alongside a lavish wine, beer, and cocktail menu. Walk-ins are permitted, but reservations are recommended. If you’re in the mood for something more casual, you can try Café 2—which features seasonal Italian cuisine like pasta, paninis, soups, artisanal cheeses, and more—or the Terrace Café, which has a delightful outdoor seating era perfect for a lovely afternoon snack.
The MoMA Museum Store is your one-stop shop for a wide range of art-related gifts and souvenirs. It stocks an impressive assortment of books, prints, toys, and accessories, with a particular emphasis on architecture and design items. If you’ve ever been in the market for an inspired houseware item like a custom-made chair, stylish vase, or bespoke end table, this is the place for you.
Tips for Visiting the Museum of Modern Art
- The MoMA is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, NY Explorer Pass and New York CityPASS.
- If you aren’t already a member, the best way to visit MoMA is by procuring a “timed ticket.” You won’t need to pay anything extra for this privilege, and you’ll be able to tour the museum as long as your heart desires, but your timed ticket will serve as a kind of reservation. You’ll simply arrive at MoMA at the time dictated by your ticket.
- A full-price adult ticket runs $25, with significant discounts available for children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. MoMA is free of charge for all those under the age of 16 years old.
- In addition to its rotating series of guest exhibits, MoMA routinely hosts special events like film screenings, curator talks, and question-and-answer sessions with artists. Check their online calendar of events for a full listing of what’s happening at the museum on the day you’re planning your visit.
- The Museum of Modern Art uses QR codes to enhance your visit, so keep an eye out for them as you move through the building to find out extra details about exhibits, artists, and more.
- Another great way to enhance your visit to MoMA is by exploring their database of audio guides. Online you’ll find all sorts of playlists with enlightening information about the museum’s history, collections, mission, and more.