Modern Women: A Partial History

The Museum of Modern Art owes a large share of its success to women. The Museum was the idea and creation of three women, and from those founders of 1929 to the associate director and president of the Museum today, women have been instrumental in the development of the institution's mission, program, and collection. This essay highlights a few of the innumerable contributions they have made to the Museum over its more than eighty-year history—as curators, administrators, scholars, artists, patrons, and activists. While meant to be informative, it is partial and by no means comprehensive. Organized alphabetically, it presents a selection of brief biographical and historical notes, with an emphasis on the Museum's early years. The goal is to highlight significant achievements and innovations by women, often linked with the establishment of programs that MoMA and many other museums now take for granted.