Founded in 1935 as the Film Library, MoMA’s Department of Film now oversees the strongest international film collection in the United States, with more than 22,000 works representing all periods and genres. In her essay “Nothing Sacred: The Founding of The Museum of Modern Art Film Library” (in Studies in Modern Art 5), Chief Curator Emerita Mary Lea Bandy wrote, “The Film Library faced the challenge of articulating a pastime as art (it still does), and throughout its history, the department has felt it necessary to point out its awareness that film is at once art and entertainment.” Purchased on July 10, 1935, the Museum’s first two film acquisitions—Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1905) and Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique (1924), representing “entertainment” and “art,” respectively—perfectly encapsulated the collection’s founding principles. The second in a series initiated in 2009, Continuum 2 illustrates the breadth of acquisitions made by the Department of Film since 2007, utilizing the fundamentals of collection development that were established seventy-five years ago.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.