Music and design—art forms that share aesthetics of rhythm, tonality, harmony, interaction, and improvisation—have long had a close affinity, perhaps never more so than during the 20th century. Radical design and technological innovations, from the LP to the iPod and from the transistor radio to the Stratocaster, have profoundly altered our sense of how music can be performed, heard, distributed, and visualized. Avant-garde designers—among them Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Lilly Reich, Saul Bass, Jørn Utzon, and Daniel Libeskind—have pushed the boundaries of their design work in tandem with the music of their time. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, Making Music Modern gathers designs for auditoriums, instruments, and equipment for listening to music, along with posters, record sleeves, sheet music, and animation. The exhibition examines alternative music cultures of the early 20th century, the rise of radio during the interwar period, how design shaped the “cool” aesthetic of midcentury jazz and hi-fidelity culture, and its role in countercultural music scenes from pop to punk, and later 20th-century design explorations at the intersection of art, technology, and perception.

Every Friday at 5:45 p.m., join us for screenings on the 1963 Scopitone—an early music film jukebox. Note: there will be no screening on November 27.

Share an image of your favorite album cover using the hashtag #MakingMusicModern.

Read posts related to Making Music Modern at INSIDE/OUT, a MoMA/MoMA PS1 blog.

Organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Luke Baker, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

HyundaiCard Company

Architecture and Design Collection Exhibitions are made possible by Hyundai Card and Hyundai Capital America.