June 28, 2011  |  Behind the Scenes
Counting Down to the Year’s End…in June

Visitors tour MoMA's galleries. Photo: Martin Seck. Shown, from left: David Smith. Australia. 1951. Painted steel on cinder block base. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of William Rubin. Mark Rothko. No. 5/No. 22. 1950 (dated on reverse 1949). Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of the artist. © 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In a city like New York, it’s pretty easy to become jaded—we live in one of the most dynamic places in the world and can easily fall into a “tell me something I don’t know” attitude. And after nearly 30 years here, 13 of them working at MoMA, I definitely am prone to it myself at times; when you can walk past The Starry Night on your way to the staff caffeteria or sit in the shade of Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk on your lunch break, it’s easy to start thinking of your surroundings as just that: surroundings. So I make a conscious effort every day at MoMA to remember and reflect upon how extraordinary it is to work for a place where so many individuals are realizing a lifelong dream by visiting. As our recent “I Went to MoMA and…” project showed us, there are extraordinary interactions happening here every day, from the mundane to the momentous.

That’s when I take a moment to focus on why I do the work I do. This year MoMA hosted nearly 3 million visitors on site and over 20 million online (including our loyal blog readers like you!). Visitors saw Picasso’s Guitars and had lunch with Alison Knowles. They discovered Matisse’s radical inventions and saw a roaming, playing piano in the Marron Atrium. Hundreds of education programs served people of all ages and backgrounds: children, many visiting a museum for the first time ever through our free school programs; families getting hands-on in our art labs; individuals and caregivers joining in our free programs for people with dementia; visitors seeing an iconic work in person for the first time—these are the things that inspire me and all of us at MoMA to create the best experience possible for the millions of people we serve each year.

As a fundraiser I spend a lot of time telling members, visitors, friends, and anyone who will listen why their support means so much, and at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, I sometimes start to feel like a broken record. But I may not take enough time to explain what it is—the fiscal year, that is—and why it’s important. So here goes:

A young visitor enjoys Material Lab at MoMA. Photo: Martin Seck

June 30 is like our New Year’s Eve: a time of great excitement and also great anticipation, and sometimes a little anxiety. The end of the fiscal year is a particularly busy time at the Museum, when we’re not only doing all of the things we always do—like keeping throngs of visitors, thousands of artworks, and tens of thousands of square feet at a constant 70 degrees and 50 percent humidity—but also making sure we’ve reached our financial goals for the year. The daily pace for MoMA staff is always a bit hectic, but at year’s end everyone, including me, goes into overdrive. In order to maintain everything from priceless works of art to less transcendent considerations—forklifts and floorboards, light bulbs and laptops—we need to raise tens of millions of dollars each year. It always comes down to the wire, but hey, keeps things interesting, right?

MoMA is an extraordinary place. I know it is a place that we both love. You and I make up the vast and extraordinary community that keeps art and culture vibrant in a world that is constantly moving. If you want to make a gift, we’d be so grateful—and please submit a comment on this post to let us know why you contribute! We really enjoy hearing your stories.