July 31, 2012  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Publications
MoMA’s First Enhanced Digital Publications

From left: cover of the digital edition of Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000; cover of the digital edition of MoMA Collection Highlights

The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Publications has launched its first two enhanced digital books for the iPad, Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 and MoMA Collection Highlights, both now available on Apple’s iBookstore. With these two books, MoMA has begun to address the challenges of turning its highly regarded print publications into worthy electronic counterparts.

Screenshot of a page from the digital edition of Century of the Child

The digital illustrated art book is early in its development, and many of the platforms created for reading books on tablet devices are still woefully inadequate for expressing the visual complexities inherent to richly illustrated art volumes when compared to the iPad. It is difficult for other devices to display beautiful images in high resolution while maintaining text readability and highly designed layouts. We worked closely with the design firm Trailer Park to utilize Apple’s iBooks Author in ways that helped us realize these goals.

Screenshot of a page from the digital edition of Century of the Child

The first task was to leverage the obvious advantages that digital books have over print books: the ability to embed audio and video content; to display images with a level of detail that often goes beyond the printed page; and to allow the reader to search for and define terms from directly within their book. Next, we had to achieve a coherent structure that didn’t simply re-create the printed book. For Century of the Child, we wanted to maintain the superb design and organization while offering popular features of the iBooks app such as adjustable font size.

MoMA Collection Highlights presents some of the most significant works from the Museum’s collection in modular form, which allowed us to be more creative in our approach. We wanted to preserve the chronological organization of the material, but also offer readers the ability to search for their favorite artists or to browse the works as a slide show. The freedom from narrative structure allowed us to present texts in optional pull-down boxes, giving readers more choice in the way they delve into the art.

Screenshot of a page from the digital edition of MoMA Collection Highlights

As we move forward with our digital publishing program, we will be looking for more ways to take advantage of new and emerging technologies. MoMA has over 1,300 titles and a wealth of archival material to draw upon, and we are working to preserve and present them in fresh ways.

Screenshot of a page from the digital edition of MoMA Collection Highlights

Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 is available on the iBookstore at a special promotional price of $19.99 through August 13, 2012. The regular price will be $29.99.

MoMA Collection Highlights is available on the iBookstore for $9.99.


Did you have to clear rights for all images to use them in a digital format?

Yes, we cleared digital rights for all the images.

Sounds wonderful!

On a related subject, I’m wondering if digital art is gaining legitimacy with major art institutions?

Leave a Comment

* required information

E-mail address*

Your comments*

Spam check*
Cri_71602 Please enter the text in the image.