Posts in ‘Behind the Scenes’
May 1, 2014  |  Artists, MoMA Stores
Now Available at the MoMA Stores: UNIQLO at MoMA Art-Inspired Accessories

UNIQLO has had a long and fruitful relationship with MoMA, and through UNIQLO Free Friday Nights has helped advance the Museum’s mission by making art and design accessible to everyone. To celebrate its continued support of MoMA, this spring UNIQLO unveiled UNIQLO at MoMA, an assortment of T-shirts, tote bags, bandanas, and socks that feature artwork by world-renowned artists, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jackson Pollock, and Ryan McGinness. Read more

“Is This a Social Experiment?” Performing John Cage
Serra Sabuncuoglu and Robert Barry participate in Performing John Cage, The Museum of Modern Art, February 18, 2014. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Serra Sabuncuoglu and Robert Barry participate in Performing John Cage, The Museum of Modern Art, February 18, 2014. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Twice daily, from February 7 to 20, MoMA staff and invited artists performed John Cage’s score 4’33″ in an area just outside the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″. Over the course of those two weeks, 28 renditions of 4’33″ were performed by 20 staff members and eight guest artists. Read more

March 5, 2014  |  Learning and Engagement
Tours for Fours: Experimenting with New Formats

One thing you’ll never hear me say about working in MoMA’s Department of Education is “I’m bored.” In fact, what I love most about my role as a researcher and evaluator in this department is the constant interest on the part of my colleagues to experiment, innovate, and try new things. There’s always the desire to find ways to improve and/or to assess the current offerings. No one is ever comfortable with just leaving things as they are. It’s this collective dynamism that drives a lot of what the Department of Education does.

Recently, two of my colleagues in Family Programs expressed interest in trying out some iterations of their successful Tours for Fours program to see what tweaks would make that experience even more engaging for four-year-olds and their caregivers. Kristin Roeder, one of our amazing MoMA educators, was also keen to be a part of the experimentation and came up with variations on the more typical Tours for Fours tours. All of us were interested in looking at length of tour, number of works included, art works chosen, theme, activities, and variables in the group (size, ratio of children to adults, inclusion of younger siblings, etc.) to see if there was an ideal mix for this particular age group. In February we tried out three different variations of MoMA’s Tours for Fours.

Using Materials and Techniques as a theme and focusing on artists’ gestures, the three variations were:

1) Comparing and contrasting two works in the galleries
2) Focusing on one work in the galleries and doing a complementary activity in the classroom
3) Engaging with three works in the galleries and receiving a related activity at the end that families can do together at MoMA

Photo: TK

Kids talking about how Pollock put paint onto canvas: “He made it crazy!” Shown: Jackson Pollock. Number 31, 1950. 1950. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 8′ 10″ x 17′ 5 5/8″ (269.5 x 530.8 cm). Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection Fund (by exchange). © 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Jackie Armstrong

Each of these was documented through observational notes and photographs. Prior to the start of the tour, I collected e-mail addresses from parents so that we could send a follow-up survey to find out what they thought about their experience. Following each tour, Family Program staff, the lead educator on the tour, and myself sat down to debrief (what worked, what didn’t) and to consider what might be worth trying going forward.

While listening to Jazz music, Educator says: “Make your fingers jump when you get to a square.” Photo: TK

While listening to jazz music, our educator says: “Make your fingers jump when you get to a square.” Shown: Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie. 1942–43. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50″ (127 x 127 cm). Given anonymously. Photo: Jackie Armstrong

What we know so far based on observations, educator reflections, and feedback from parents is that:

• Tours should include at least three works during the 45 minutes. Adults expressed an interest in exposing their children to a variety of works and four-year-olds lost interest if too much time was spent on one work. For future iterations of this tour we may experiment by including four or five works during the 45 minutes.
• Including works that are familiar and unfamiliar to most adults is a good way to keep families engaged
• Themes that inspire curiosity and enable families to get into the head of the artist/be an artist are really effective (e.g. gesture)
• Hands-on activities are appreciated and present teaching opportunities that children will not only enjoy, but also remember
• For gallery-based programs like Tours for Fours, activities that take place in the galleries are best as getting to the classroom and getting an activity underway takes too much time away from the tour; families also expect to be in the galleries as classrooms do not offer the unique or immersive experience they are looking for
• Involvement of the adult caregivers is key to a successful tour; ideally, adults and children should be thinking and talking about art together
• Younger children (particularly siblings) who come along on the tour often distract the four-year-olds and/or cause disturbances that upset the tour, however we realize that families generally like to stick together so we need to find more effective ways of addressing these realities
• Providing a little activity for families to take away at the end of the tour is an appreciated gesture, and for families that do the activities it really adds to their time at MoMA

 Parent: “I thought someone who could talk to children would talk to her about art. Instead, someone talked to her about how people make art, allowed her to imagine and practice it, and sent us on our way. We went home and made our own Jackson Pollock. It was beyond awesome” Photo: TK

In a MoMA classroom one parent noted, “I thought someone who could talk to children would talk to her about art. Instead, someone talked to her about how people make art, allowed her to imagine and practice it, and sent us on our way. We went home and made our own Jackson Pollock. It was beyond awesome.” Photo: Jackie Armstrong

In March, we are planning to test out more variations of Tours for Fours. We hope that this loop of iterative testing will help us create a tour that best matches the needs and abilities of four-year-old visitors (and their adult caregivers).

Have you been to a MoMA Tours for Fours program? We’d love to hear from you!

February 21, 2014  |  Artists, MoMA Stores
The MoMA Stores Debut Designs by Contemporary Artists
The MoMA Design Store windows at West 53rd Street, featuring TK. Photo: Scott Rudd

The MoMA Design Store windows at West 53rd Street, featuring plates by contemporary artists. Photo: Scott Rudd

In the second installment of Inside/Out’s spotlight on our new series of artist-produced housewares, the MoMA Design Store is excited to debut a suite of candles and Limoges porcelain collectible trays and plates with Ligne Blanche Paris. The collaboration was spearheaded by The MoMA Design Store’s Director of Merchandising Emmanuel Plat and Ligne Blanche Paris Founder Pierre Pelegry, and launched last week at the MoMA Stores.

“Both the MoMa Design Store and Ligne Blanche Paris have a similar goal: to pique the public’s interest in the work of contemporary artists through design. Since expanding the work of artists to high-quality domestic products has become a focus for the MoMA Design Store, the collaboration was a natural fit,” says Plat.

As eclectic as the artists featured, the suite provides a unique survey of disparate artistic voices and methods of creation over the last four decades.

Robert Longo. American Flag tray

American Flag tray by Robert Longo

Robert Longo’s adroit use of chiaroscuro modeling with charcoal heightens the impact of his subject matter, and gives his pieces—from his blackened American flags to his figure and animal studies—gravitas and a timeless quality.

Alex Katz. Jessica dessert plate (left); Sarah Mearns dessert plate (right). 2013

Jessica (left) and Sara Mearns (right) plates by Alex Katz

Alex Katz is recognized as a hugely influential precursor to the Pop art movement and one of the most respected American artists working today. Katz’s portraits and figure studies are characterized by their flatness of form, restrained lines, and aloof subjects.

A bricoleur of everyday objects, Tom Sachs distills the spirit of the modern era and our relationship to consumerism in his flashy reproductions of commodities.

Tom Sachs. Top Mug (left); Jack Pierson. Golden Age. 2010 (right)

Top Mug plate (left) by Tom Sachs; Golden Years plate (right) by Jack Pierson

Drawn to celebrity, melodrama, and erotic narrative, Jack Pierson produces works that are infused with literal and visual references to unrequited love, desire, faded stardom, and sentimental musings. Pierson’s typographic Golden Years (2010) relies heavily on the visual poetics of typography and can be interpreted as wistful homage to the halcyon years of one’s life.

Gilbert & George. Light Headed. 1991 (left); Flight (right)

Light Headed plate (left) and Flight plate (right) by Gilbert & George

From across the pond comes a quartet of plates by British art renegades Gilbert & George, whose prolific career has spanned almost five decades. The dynamic duo juxtapose their look-alike, robotic visages with a hyper-saturated potpourri of images—from anonymous pastoral landscapes to shots of London’s gritty inner-city—to confront the viewer and completely immerse him or her in the visual experience.

The line also includes work by three renowned artists whose prolific and highly influential careers were tragically cut short: Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. Though contemporaries during the 1980s, their respective bodies of work encompass distinct experiences that are radically different in tone, character, and execution.

Robert Mapplethorpe. Calla Lily (left); Wrestler (right)

Calla Lily (left) and Wrestler (right) plates by Robert Mapplethorpe

Jean-Michel Basquiat. All Colored Cast 1 (right); Horn Players (left)

All Colored Cast 1 (left) and Horn Players (right) plates by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Keith Haring. Untitled 1 (left);  Untitled 2 (right)

Plates by Keith Haring featuring two untitled works

Ligne Blanche Paris worked closely with the estates of these artists to create products that capture the spirit of those they represent.

“Every product is devised in perfect knowledge of, and with a scrupulous respect for, the works of the artists with whom we work,” says Pelegry.

The MoMA Design Store will carry a limited number of these artist edition plates at two store locations: on West 53rd Street across from the Museum, and in SoHo at 81 Spring Street.

February 13, 2014  |  Learning and Engagement
Conversations across Cultures: Facilitating Art-Making Workshops with Educators from Korea

Workshop participants create artwork inspired by Warhol and Kim

Workshop participants create artwork inspired by Andy Warhol and Kim Whanki

As New Yorkers, we like to think we have a handle on public transit. The local, the express, the muttering person you try and steer clear of—we’re unfazed. But tackling the subway in Seoul, South Korea, was a different story. Read more

February 12, 2014  |  Artists, Behind the Scenes, MoMA Stores
Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari Bring Toiletpaper to the Table
Caption TK

A scene from MoMA Design Store’s spring catalog cover shoot featuring Seletti Wears Toiletpaper, a suite of dishes, mugs, and tablecloths created by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari for Seletti

This season the MoMA Design Store is pleased to announce the launch of an exclusive new series of artist-produced wares. To celebrate these artistic collaborations we’re going share with Inside/Out readers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of designing these exciting products, and background about the artists involved. Read more

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Living City” Lives On: Conserving the Broadacre City Model

Drawing of Broadacre City by Frank Lloyd Wright. From B. Pfeiffer, Frank Lloyd Wright 1943–1959: The Complete Works [Vol. 3], edited by Peter Gössel, published by Taschen, 2009

Drawing of Broadacre City by Frank Lloyd Wright. From B. Pfeiffer, Frank Lloyd Wright 1943–1959: The Complete Works [Vol. 3], edited by Peter Gössel, published by Taschen, 2009

MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Library recently made an acquisition sure to excite even the most casual architecture fans: the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive. In addition to many thousands of drawings, photographs, and ephemera, this collection includes over 60 models and building fragments. One of the largest and most expansive models is that of Broadacre City—Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian reimagining of the city as open space and landscape rather than skyscraper and skyline. Read more

January 27, 2014  |  Behind the Scenes, Learning and Engagement
User-Testing Sessions for MoMA Audio+: Learning by Listening and Watching

Following over a year of research and development by a cross-departmental team, MoMA Audio+ mobile guide debuted in July 2013, replacing the handheld audio guides that the Museum had been distributing for many years. MoMA Audio+ enables visitors not only to listen to audio commentaries and read interpretive texts about works of art, but also offers the ability to take and share photographs, locate works of art and facilities, and e-mail yourself a record of your visit using the My Path feature.

A visitor in the galleries using the MoMA Audio+ mobile guide. Photo: Martin Seck

A visitor in the galleries using the MoMA Audio+ mobile guide. Photo: Martin Seck

Testing and assessment has been key to the process of developing MoMA Audio+. Built using a method called agile development, in the months leading up to launch, the development team released and tested functional versions of the app as it was being built. Based on testing and feedback, we could iteratively implement improvements to the user interface and features to better enhance visitor experience. After launch, we conducted assessment from a variety of perspectives: visitors returning the mobile guide were interviewed about their experience, Antenna staff distributing the mobile guide were surveyed, and user-testing sessions were conducted.

MoMA Audio+ desk. Photo: Martin Seck

MoMA Audio+ mobile guide distribution desk. Photo: Martin Seck

How Does User Testing Work?

Nine individuals were recruited to participate in user testing. Participants represented a mix of ages and genders, as well as varying interests, work experiences, and technical abilities. User testing took place in December over the course of three mornings in the American Modern exhibition. Three participants were scheduled for each 60- to 90-minute session, and for every participant there was a lead facilitator and a cofaciliator. The lead facilitator guided the participant through the directed-testing instrument, prompted and asked for clarification as needed, and took notes. The cofaciliator also prompted as needed, asked questions, and took notes. For each session, there was also at least one additional staff person floating between groups and observing. Participants were asked to think out loud and voice any questions or concerns as much as much as possible during the testing.

Testing the MoMA Audio+ device with visitors in the galleries. Photo: Claire Huddleston

A user-testing participant with facilitators in the galleries. Photo: Claire Huddleston

So, what did we learn?

A lot! I’ve been working in museum evaluation for a few years and am constantly amazed by the amount and depth of information that even a small group of user-testing participants can provide. While some of the insights offered confirmed our own thoughts about the mobile guide, there were also plenty of things they pointed out that we did not realize were barriers to a smooth user experience. Along with critical feedback, it was also great to hear what people enjoyed about using MoMA Audio+.

Here are some of the overall findings from the user testing sessions:
What did users really like about MoMA Audio+?

• The amount and variety of content available for them to access
• The high quality images presented on the device
• The camera feature, My Path feature, and other functions that allowed them to personalize and share their experience at MoMA

What aspects of MoMA Audio+ did users find difficult or confusing?
• Locating the How To use MoMA Audio+ instructions
• Understanding and locating all the layers of content and features available
• Locating specific artworks using the map

We really appreciated all the critical feedback these user testing participants offered because it helps us find ways to improve on what we currently offer visitors. Of course, we also loved that 89% (N=9) felt that MoMA Audio+ is something that would enhance their experience in the galleries. A few comments from participants included:
• “I feel that MoMA Audio+ enhances what I came to see here. Thousands of things on view and this helps me to shape my visit.”
• “It added another dimension. Nothing replaces the act of looking, but knowing more about what I’m seeing enriches the experience. This achieves that goal. Devices are not too heavy, not burdensome, not ugly, nice MoMA graphic.”
• “Usually, I just want to be with the art and wander around but I really like the ability this device gives you to document what you see during your visit. Personalizes the experience”

A visitor in the galelries using the MoMA Audio+ device. Photo: Martin Seck

Using the MoMA Audio+ mobile guide to document a performance in the galleries. Photo: Martin Seck

Have you tried MoMA Audio+ on one of your visits to the Museum yet? If you did, we’d love to know what you thought!

January 23, 2014  |  Learning and Engagement
A Video Is Worth a Thousand Words: Online Learning with The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project

I’ve racked up a lot of frequent flier miles working with The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project. My colleagues and I have had the great pleasure of traveling to places like Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Alexandria, Louisiana (population: 48,000) to facilitate training workshops on how to use art to engage individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Read more

MoMA’s Jackson Pollock Conservation Project: Bringing the Project to Conclusion: Restoration of Number 1A, 1948

Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948.  1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 68” x 8’8.” On view at MoMA in a recent acquisitions exhibition in 1950

Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948. 1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 68” x 8’8.” On view at MoMA in a recent acquisitions exhibition in 1950

Readers who have been following the blog will recognize a pattern in our approach to conservation treatment of Number 1A, 1948, the final of three Jackson Pollock paintings that have been the focus of our 18-month project. Read more