Museum of Modern Art Department of Architecture and Design

The Department of Architecture and Design is within the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan. 

It is dedicated to collecting and displaying landmarks of modern and contemporary design.

It started in 1929 and is one of the original curatorial departments. 

The architecture and design collection has grown exponentially over nine decades, encompassing over 30,000 architectural drawings, models, photographs, and prototypes. 

It also features several thousand examples of industrial and manufactured design objects of the 20th and 21st centuries.

History and Growth of the Department 

The architecture department was overseen by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock in 1932. 

Some of their earliest acquisitions included drawings from Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. 

Over subsequent decades, the architecture and design collection expanded in scope and size through important gifts and purchases. 

A few noteworthy acquisitions included a portfolio of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings donated by Edgar J. Kaufman in the 1940s. 

By the 1970s, the department brought seminal industrial designs like the famous 1936 Anglepoise lamp. 

Today, the diverse architecture and design collection comprises several sub-categories. 

Such as architectural drawings and models, design prototypes and products, architectural photography, drawings of decorative arts and exhibition designs created for MoMA itself. 

A few collection highlights include sketches and models from renowned architects like Leoh Ming Pei, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. 

MoMA is also home to iconic furniture pieces like mid-century modern lounge chairs and Eero Saarinen’s ubiquitous Tulip table. 

Other popularly recognized items include the first commercially produced paper cups, Jeeps, and a Google server rack.

Exhibition Spaces and Rotating Displays

You will find the display of architecture and design on the 3rd floor of Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries. 

Or you can head to the Department for Architecture and Design Research and Theory on the 2nd floor. 

The collection also enjoys occasional pop-up displays within the museum’s contemporary sculpture garden spaces.

The Philip Johnson galleries have several simultaneous shows, about 150-200 collection pieces at one time. 

The architecture and design galleries change displays frequently every 6-9 months. 

Research Initiatives and Public Resources

Curators and researchers within the department constantly investigate subjects within architecture and design. 

Ongoing research tries to identify and acquire new works from underrepresented creators and communities!

The Department of Architecture has an extensive online database. This makes thousands of collection items accessible beyond gallery walls. 

Visitors worldwide can search architecture and design pieces by date, artist, location, and taxonomy. 

MoMA also attempts to expand and educate about architecture and design beyond collecting and displaying objects. 

Talk series, film screenings and artist conversations are frequent at MoMA. 

At these, you meet like-minded people and discuss challenges around sustainable urban growth, adaptive reuse spaces, materials science innovations and much more. 

Architecture and design permeate daily existence, so leveraging these works within the museum to connect audiences to real issues is proving ever more crucial.

Featured Image: Moma.org

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