A 1923 postcard showing the Heckscher Building, with The Plaza Hotel at right
On November 8, 1929 the Museum of Modern Art first opened to the public. It was, at the time, the first New York City institution devoted to showing and collecting works by contemporary artists of its day. First located in the Heckscher building, MoMA began as a rented suite of six galleries at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City.
In a time fraught with uncertainty and despair—Black Tuesday had happened just 10 days prior—the Museum became a haven for a distressed population looking for comfort in culture. Its exhibition program showed not only traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, but was among the first museums in the world to establish a curatorial department for media such as photography, film, and design.
In the 84 years since it first opened its doors, MoMA has since become one of the world’s preeminent institutions, with a collection that includes masterworks like Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Frida Kahlo’s Self Portait with Cropped Hair, and the Bell 47D1 helicopter (an example of modern design).
It is a personal favourite stop when in New York, and when not, has a rich educational resource accessible through its website—a rabbit hole I’ve been known to tumble down for hours at a time. In 2014, the museum will mount exhibitions spotlighting the evolution of photography in the studio, artist Sigmar Polke, and art dealer and patron Ileana Sonnabend, among other shows. More time down that rabbit hole appears imminent.