On any given day, MoMA curators, librarians, registrars, educators, and others are en route to a conference, lecture, studio visit, or exhibition near home or abroad. Travel is both a constant and a marvelous perk of working at the Museum. However, unlike the ubiquitous nature of staff travel today, in 1946 the Museum actually issued a press release announcing founding Film Library curator Iris Barry’s trip to Paris
Posts tagged ‘Iris Barry’
Long before The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film was so named, it was called the Film Library. The entity to be known as the Film Library was officially announced on June 27, 1935, and on July 2 The Museum of Modern Art Film Library Corporation was formalized with documents signed by trustees A. Conger Goodyear, John Hay Whitney, and Nelson A. Rockefeller.
As the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) intern for 2012, I am fortunate to be spending time at all three New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) libraries. The Frick Art Reference Library and those of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) share many attributes. One of these is the important role that collecting expeditions played in increasing the holdings of each institution.
Okay, they were previously 0% findable. Still, by adding the MoMA Film Department Special Collections inventory to the MoMA website, film researchers can now discover over 100 primary-source collections on film-related figures and topics.
Though I’m still a believer, I’m a bit too old to send a want list to Santa each year. But if I did, at the top of that list would be a Joseph Cornell box. Any box would do. Even one of the later collages from the 1960s would be just fine by me. But since Santa bestows linens and cooking utensils upon me these days, I keep my nose pressed against the glass on the Cornell boxes on exhibition at MoMA. (No, not really!)
So imagine my excitement in 1995 when The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation donated a comprehensive gift of film materials made and collected by Joseph Cornell to MoMA’s Department of Film. In this collection are films made by Société Lumière, Georges Méliès, and Pathé Frères. These early film pioneers imbued their inventive cinematic efforts with magic, whimsy, fairies, and other-worldly adventures. Cornell—a sometimes mysterious figure in the New York art world who is best known for his collages, box constructions, and experimental films—was drawn to the escape that these enchanting moments of cinematic exploration afforded him while he remained firmly rooted to the middle-class landscape of Utopia Parkway in Flushing, Queens. If film-going was a treasured diversion for Cornell—who was also a frequent visitor to the Museum’s Library, Archives, and galleries and who engaged in lively, revealing, and surprisingly humorous correspondence with Museum personnel—then just imagine his delight in corresponding with Iris Barry, the first curator of the MoMA Film Library and one of the most influential personalities in the world of film as art.
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