Silent Movie Week

Aug 2–8, 2023


Three Weeks. 1924. USA. Directed by Alan Crosland. The Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

As a commercial medium, silent film lasted for only about 30 years, but those 30 years represented a creative explosion with few parallels in the art world. Evolving from one-shot experiments into immensely complex formal systems in record time, movies captured the energy of an emerging industrial society in all of its beauty and horror. Without the benefit of spoken words, silent films developed a system of expression based on light and movement that led down new creative paths. And by drawing on the spectator’s imagination to complete their partial worlds, by filling in vocal nuance and ambient sounds, they solicit our attention and involvement in a unique way: to watch a silent film is to participate in its creation.

It’s estimated that only 20 percent of the films made between 1895 and 1930 survive, and yet the work of preserving and restoring the remaining films continues. MoMA is one of several archives around the world with significant silent film holdings, and this program is an attempt to catch up with some of the work being done by our colleagues and ourselves, all presented here in East Coast—and in some cases United States—premieres.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, and Karen and Gary Winnick.


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

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This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].