April 6, 2012  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday (Plus One): MoMA’s Car Collection

Installation view of AUTObodies: speed, sport, trasport, MoMA QNS, June 2002. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image © 2002 David Allison

Five for Friday, written by a variety of MoMA staff members, is our attempt to spotlight some of the compelling, charming, and downright curious works in the Museum’s rich collection.

MoMA was the first art museum to collect and exhibit automobiles as examples of functional design. The Cisitalia “202” GT (1946) was the first vehicle to enter the collection, in 1972, and MoMA has organized nine automotive exhibitions, beginning with the landmark presentation Eight Automobiles in 1951. (Download the original press release in PDF format.) More recently, in 2002, the Museum presented AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport, which featured all the cars in MoMA’s collection.

On the occasion of the New York International Auto Show, here’s a look at all six cars currently in MoMA’s collection.


1. Pininfarina (Battista “Pinin” Farina). Cisitalia “202” GT Car. 1946 (produced 1948)
The Cisitalia entered MoMA’s collection in 1972.

2. Willys-Overland Motors, Inc., Toledo, Ohio. Truck: utility 1/4 ton 4×4, M38A1 (Jeep). February 1953 (design date: 1952)
The Jeep, which enterted MoMA’s collection in 2002, is currently on view in the exhibition Born out of Necessity.

3. Ferdinand Porsche, Volkswagenwerk and Germany (founded 1938). Volkswagen, Type 1 Sedan. 1959
The Volkswagon Beetle entered MoMA’s collection in 2002.

4. Sir William Lyons, Malcolm Sayer, William M. Heynes. E-Type Roadster. 1961
The Jaguar E-Type entered MoMA’s collection in 1996.

5. John Barnard, Ferrari S.p.A., Maranello and Italy (established 1929). Formula 1 Racing Car 641/2. 1990
The Formula 1, which entered MoMA’s collection in 1994, is currently on view in MoMA’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building.

6. Micro Compact Car Smart GmbH, Renningen, Germany, and Hambach, France (German and French, founded 1994). Smart Car (“Smart & Pulse” Coupé). 2002
The Smart Car entered MoMA’s collection in 2002.

Learn more about all of these cars on the MoMA Multimedia page.


you need to collect the first multimedia computer Amiga 1000, 1985 !

beautiful examples of foreign cars classic to American culture.

Ask Jay Leno to donate a favorite American classic car exhibit or loan an exhibit.

nothing more sculptural than a vintage Ferrari.

The Jaguar E Type is a sinuous sculpture on wheels. Can we have some more photos please?

As an auto worker who worked at Ford’s, Chryslers and General Motors growing up the Detroit area I expected at least one muscle car from 1965-1969! The Chryler Hemi plant was a mile from my house and the Ford Mustang plant was 5 miles away. I even worked in the steel mills that produced the metal for the cars. And come on curators what about the Duesenberg. Now that’s a duesey!

Three of MOMA’s choices strike me as exemplary solutions in automotive history.

Most convincingly, the VW Beetle and the Willys Jeep stand out for their utility, reliability, economy and enduring popularity.

But when searching for the highest altitude in esthetics and performance, MOMA has, I believe, chosen the standout model. The 1961 E-type Jaguar presented a breakout convergence of art and engineering that startled the masters in both disciplines and evoked universal drooling amongst the public. After more than a half century, it remains in a category of its own.

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