My coworker Paulina Pobocha’s recent post discussing a new painting acquisition made casual mention of a staggering fact: at any given moment, MoMA is only able to display some 10 to 15 percent of its collection. This is due to limitations of space, plain and simple. Our acquisitions practices are necessarily limited by these same constraints, and though we continue to carefully maintain and build upon our collection, we cannot acquire nearly as many works as we may wish. Despite our frequent gallery rotations, there are inevitably pieces that spend too much time in crates in Queens.
The Museum counteracts this by being a generous lending institution. At present, more than 170 works from the Department of Painting and Sculpture alone are off-site. This number includes both works that are infrequently exhibited and those that visitors may be accustomed to seeing on a more regular basis.