September 14, 2010
It is with my deepest appreciation that I write to thank you for your generosity and commitment over the past twelve months. You helped us not only to keep the Museum up and running in these very challenging economic times, but to sustain a dynamic mix of exhibitions and publications, enhance our collection, and implement key educational and digital initiatives as well. The Museum ended the fiscal year with a balanced budget for the fifteenth consecutive year and saw record-breaking attendance of 3.1 million visitors. Membership rose to 136,000 members, and this year Time Out New York Kids ranked MoMA’s Family membership as one of the best overall values in New York City. The Museum also strengthened its connection to a rapidly growing online community through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes U, Flickr, and MoMA and MoMA PS1’s blog INSIDE/OUT. The Museum’s website, MoMA.org, drew nearly eighteen million visitors last year, and five million visited MoMAstore.org.
In 2009, MoMA presented nine of the top eleven exhibitions in New York, and nine of the top thirty exhibitions worldwide (The Art Newspaper). Full career retrospectives highlighted the work of Israeli designer Ron Arad, contemporary Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, innovative filmmaker Tim Burton, accomplished South African artist William Kentridge, performance-art pioneer Marina Abramović, and legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Thematic shows included an examination of the Conceptual art scene that flourished in Amsterdam in the 1960s and 1970s; a survey of the famous and influential Bauhaus school of avant-garde art; an exhibition reuniting Claude Monet’s magnificent Water Lilies for the first time since 2004; and a fresh look at Pablo Picasso’s creative process through the medium of printmaking. New Photography 2009 showcased the work of Walead Beshty, Daniel Gordon, Leslie Hewitt, Carter Mull, Sterling Ruby, and Sara Vanereek, and Yin Xiuzhen, Artur Zmijewski, and Song Dong were featured as part of the Projects series.
From Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Olga with a Fur Collar (1923), considered a monument of twentieth-century printmaking, to the complete archive of Matthew Barney’s epic Drawing Restraint series (1987–2007), which traces an autobiographical path through the work of this highly influential multimedia artist, new acquisitions over the past year—931 in total, embracing a wide range of mediums, time periods, and artistic traditions—helped to both reinforce and redefine a collection marked by its richness, depth, and diversity. The landmark publication Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, accompanied by a number of exhibitions drawn exclusively from the collection, marked the first effort by a major North American museum to examine its holdings in light of feminist scholarship of the past three decades. Contemporary Art from the Collection (through May 9, 2011), drawn from all areas of MoMA’s collection, explores how current events from the past forty years have shaped artists’ work. Bruce Nauman: Days presented a recently acquired sound sculpture by this groundbreaking artist, while Frederick Wiseman commemorated the acquisition of this important documentary filmmaker’s work with a yearlong retrospective in the theaters.
As we move forward in the rapidly shifting landscape of today’s global art world, the Museum is committed to presenting the latest developments in how art is made, displayed, and understood in a way that welcomes discussion and debate. The Museum’s recently renamed Department of Media and Performance Art focuses on the collection, exhibition, and preservation of time-based art, some of the most popular and cutting-edge work being made today, and we are delighted to welcome Sabine Breitwieser, an expert curator and author in the field, as the department’s new chief curator. Ms. Breitwieser takes the helm from Klaus Biesenbach, who is now the director of MoMA PS1 and MoMA’s chief curator at large. I am also pleased to announce that Peter Eleey (formerly of Walker Art Museum and Creative Time Inc.) has joined MoMA PS1 as curator for exhibitions and public programs.
The Museum’s education programs and digital initiatives are actively encouraging new ways of experiencing art and engaging with the public. Building on the success of Shape Lab—which drew over 20,000 kids of all ages—MoMA will soon unveil Material Lab, a similar interactive space where visitors can explore the multitude of materials used by artists. The Museum is also introducing online courses on MoMA.org to broaden the scope of our hugely popular classes for adults. Earlier this year, MoMA was recognized for its groundbreaking publication Meet Me: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia, receiving the Excellence in Published Resources Award and taking the top prize for educational resources in the American Association of Museums’ Publication Design Competition.
INSIDE/OUT (MoMA.org/insideout), a new blog offering an inside look at MoMA and MoMA PS1’s activities, launched in November 2009, midway through an astounding year of growth for the Museum’s online communities: on Facebook (facebook.com/museumofmodernart), MoMA’s fans increased by 138% to a total of 445,584, and on Twitter (twitter.com/museummodernart) our followers grew to include 233,858 online art enthusiasts. MoMA E-News now has 440,664 subscribers, a 33% increase from last year. MoMA has launched an iPhone app, and an iPad app for the upcoming exhibition Abstract Expressionist New York is in the works; both aim to offer more interactive and user-friendly ways to experience modern and contemporary art.
Partnerships designed to share expertise and resources and to reach new audiences are a key priority. Among the Museum’s initiatives is a multiyear collaboration with the High Museum in Atlanta that will extend ties between the institutions through professional exchanges and the development of exhibition, education, and publication programs; and the research-based collaboration C-MAP, short for Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives, which links MoMA curators with their colleagues around the world, encouraging intercultural dialogue, research, and professional development. Connecting Collections, a national institute organized this past July by MoMA in collaboration with several other New York museums, brought together forty teachers from around the world for a weeklong program focused on the integration of visual images in the classroom.
We have another exciting year ahead—this fall I hope you will enjoy Abstract Expressionist New York, a sweeping display of works from the collection by such artists as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and David Smith; Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, a critical look at how this favorite of household rooms has been transformed over the past century; Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, featuring architectural projects that confront social, political, and economic inequality; and On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, which examines how the medium of drawing has evolved throughout the twentieth century. Until then, I hope you’ll visit some of the outstanding exhibitions currently on view at MoMA, including Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, offering innovative designs to address rising sea levels; and Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917, which presents some of the most experimental and enigmatic works of the artist’s career (both through October 11). And at MoMA PS1, Greater New York 2010—the third iteration of the series renowned for showcasing emerging artists in the New York area, on view through October 18—is not to be missed. I cannot thank you enough for your support—your generosity enables the Museum to maintain the strong financial base so crucial to our success.
With best wishes and deepest appreciation for making this all possible,
Glenn D. Lowry