Sculpture Garden

Installation view of the exhibition Ten Automobiles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 15–October 4, 1953. Department of Architecture and Design Exhibition Files, Exh. #541. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York

History of the Sculpture Garden 101

Deputy Director, Peter Reed: Hello, I'm Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs here at the Museum of Modern Art. I'm here in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was one of the three founders of The Museum of Modern Art, and is dedicated in her memory. And, in fact, her house was on this site.

The Museum of Modern Art lies in the heart of a very busy city, of an urban metropolis, and the founders of the Museum wanted some relief from that. And what better relief than being in a garden?

Just as the architect, Philip Johnson, spoke about an Italian piazza, which always is at the heart of an Italian city, the sculpture garden has had that kind of social life over the years.

There's been music performances. There have been dance performances. There have been protests.

One of the historic exhibitions I wish I'd seen here was on automobiles in the 1950s. And there were these beautiful, classic European automobiles in the garden. And the curator at the time described automobiles as hollow rolling sculpture. And I've always loved that idea that even automobiles, in a sculpture garden, might be seen as sculpture.

1 / 12