The Museum of Modern Art opened in November 1929 with its first exhibition, Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh. Since that time the Museum has presented more than 3,500 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, architecture and design, photography, film, performance, and new media.
We’ll be highlighting one exhibition a week for 52 weeks.
The exhibition history can be searched freely, or browsed in a more structured way by exhibition type or time period. Each exhibition page includes a list of participating artists, when available. Artist pages likewise list all of the exhibitions known to have included that artist, along with any of their works in MoMA’s collection online. Exhibition pages may also include installation views, an annotated checklist of included works, press releases, and the full exhibition catalogue. Exhibitions after 1995 may include exhibition subsites—the first of which was produced for Mutant Materials—as well as slideshows, related videos, and commissioned essays.
A work in progress
This resource was conceived as a living archive rather than a one-off publication. Some exhibition pages have the full range of available materials, while others are limited to core information. The history will be continually updated, with new and upcoming shows appearing as soon as they are added to our calendar.
The exhibition history materials were compiled by a team of archivists who processed over 22,000 folders of exhibition records dating from 1929 to 1989. The Archives will process records from 1990 to 2000 over the next three years. Currently, more than 800 film series from the past decade are online, but not yet included are thousands of film series presented by MoMA’s Department of Film over its 80-year history. These records will be added in a future phase of the project, as will a history of performance art at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 and an exhibition history of MoMA PS1.
The underlying data for exhibitions from 1929 to 1989 is available on GitHub, alongside data sets of artworks and artists in the collection.
This data is in the public domain and available for anyone to sort and analyze—answering questions such as how many exhiitions included work by a particular artist, which exhibitions were organized by a particular curator, who was the youngest artist to have a solo show, or which artists are most frequently exhibited with another artist. We encourage and look forward to these interpretations.
To celebrate the launch of the exhibition data, we asked Good, Form & Spectacle to spend some time exploring and working with the data. They created a "spelunker," or a lo-fi data exploration interface focusing on the people behind the exhibitions curators, arrangers, designers, artists, and more.
The Museum of Modern Art Archives
The exhibition history is a project of the Archives, an internationally recognized research center for modern and contemporary art. The Archives collects, preserves, and makes accessible nearly 90 years’ worth of the Museum’s historical records, 40 years’ worth of MoMA PS1 records, and other primary source documents concerning art and cultural history in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Funding for the processing of The Museum of Modern Art exhibition records was generously provided by the Leon Levy Foundation.