Director, Glenn Lowry: I’m Glenn Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art. As you walk around or sit down and relax here in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, let me tell you a little about its history.
In 1939, at 11 West 53rd Street, a sculpture garden was included in the first permanent home of The Museum of Modern Art. Director Alfred Barr and Architecture curator John McAndrew designed it in a single night, just a couple of weeks before the Museum’s new building opened. That garden was enclosed by a wooden fence and covered with gravel. Between the sculptures, freestanding screens created intimate viewing spaces.
The garden you’re standing in today was designed in 1953 by MoMA’s Director of Architecture and Design, Philip Johnson, and is dedicated to Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, one of the Museum’s founders. Her townhouse home once stood on this site. The garden evolved through a series of renovations over the next half-century.
When the Museum expanded in 1984, the garden was actually reduced in size. But in 2004, architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s new buildings restored the transparency and continuity between interior and exterior spaces. Now, once again, the garden functions as a central focus for the Museum.