Collection 1880s–1940s


Visual Vernaculars

New on view



Unidentified photographer. Untitled. c. 1920. Gelatin silver print, 2 3/8 × 4 3/16" (6.1 × 10.7 cm). Gift of Peter J. Cohen
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 521 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

The introduction of the Kodak camera, in 1888, facilitated a veritable explosion of photographic production in everyday life. This gallery draws from MoMA’s expansive collection of such photographs, often termed “vernacular” because of their relationship to forms of expression beyond formal fine art contexts. Personal and familial pictures demonstrate the role photography can play in the construction of a self-image, giving form to interrelated social identities, relationships, and communities. Quotidian images have also influenced artistic practice, as evidenced by some of the works in this room.

Organized by Oluremi C. Onabanjo, The Peter Schub Curator, and Robin Coste Lewis, 2022–23 Ford Foundation Scholar in Residence, with Chiara Mannarino, Curatorial Assistant, and Antoinette D. Roberts, former Curatorial Assistant.

34 works online

Support for the collection is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund. Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Eva and Glenn Dubin, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Kenneth C. Griffin, Alice and Tom Tisch, the Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Mimi Haas, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


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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].