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ORAL HISTORY

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The Museum of Modern Art Archives has long recognized the value of oral history as a fundamental way to capture gaps in the written record, preserve the firsthand recollections of the individual in his or her own voice, and enrich the work of scholars and curators. To date, the Archives has created over 100 oral histories. The tabs below provide further information, video excerpts, and transcripts for various parts of the Oral History Program. In addition, you can review a comprehensive listing of oral histories. Researchers can consult transcripts and/or selected extended artists' filmed interviews during an appointment in the Archives' Manhattan reading room. For more information, check Visit the Archives.


Artist Oral History Initiative

In 2011, the Museum Archives received a generous grant from an anonymous donor to create the Artist Oral History Initiative. For this initiative, artists were filmed in MoMA galleries and study centers discussing works in the collection with Museum curators and scholars.


Acconci-s

Vito Acconci

January 17, 2012

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Interviewed by Jeff Weinstein

Vito Acconci Transcript

Vija-s

Vija Celmins

October 18, 2011

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Interviewed by Betsy Sussler, Editor in Chief of Bomb Magazine

Vija Celmins Transcript

Graham-s

Dan Graham

November 1, 2011

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Interviewed by Sabine Breitwieser, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art

Dan Graham Transcript

Kelly-s

Ellsworth Kelly

May 23, 2012

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Interviewed by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture

Ellsworth Kelly transcript forthcoming.

Nauman-s

Bruce Nauman

January 9, 2012

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Interviewed by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director of The Museum of Modern Art

Bruce Nauman Transcript

Rainer-s

Yvonne Rainer

July 7, 2011

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Interviewed by Connie Butler, The Robert Lehman Chief Curator of Drawing

Yvonne Rainer Transcript

Rosenquist-s

James Rosenquist

April 17, 2012

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Interviewed by Leah Dickerman, Curator of Painting and Sculpture

James Rosenquist Transcript

Rusha-s

Ed Ruscha

January 24, 2012

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Interviewed by Christophe Cherix, The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books

Ed Ruscha Transcript

Institutional Oral History Program


The Museum Archives' Institutional Oral History Program was founded in 1990 with a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The program produced interviews with select individuals affiliated with the Museum, such as trustees, major donors, administrative and curatorial staff, artists, and dealers. Each interview focuses on the individual's role in the Museum, with the aim of preserving MoMA's institutional memory. 

A selection of the Museum's collection of institutional oral history transcripts is available below. Researchers must obtain advance permission from the Museum Archives to publish and/or quote from any oral history. Researchers can consult the complete collection of the Museum's oral history transcripts in the Archives' Manhattan reading room. For more information, see Visiting the Archives.

Exhibition Documentaries


From 2003 to 2009, the Museum undertook a series of oral history–inspired interviews related to special MoMA exhibitions. These exhibition documentaries featured curators and artists discussing the exhibition in situ. The series of exhibition documentaries was initiated in 2003 under the guidance of Mary Lea Bandy, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, and CK Studios produced the videos. DVD copies of the interviews are available in the MoMA Archives, and the HDCam masters are held by the Museum's Department of Film. View a comprehensive listing of oral histories.