The Archives has held periodic exhibitions of materials drawn from its collections. These exhibitions have showcased newly acquired collections, highlighted lesser-known parts of the Archives, and examined particular periods or aspects of the Museum’s history through photographs, correspondence, exhibition records, ephemera, and other documentary evidence. Click the links below for more information on each exhibition.

All exhibitions were held in the Celeste Bartos Theater Lobby of the Lewis G. and Dorothy Cullman Education Building unless otherwise noted.

BAUHAUS↔VKhUTEMAS: Intersecting Parallels

September 25–November 9, 2018

In the wake of the First World War, two interdisciplinary art schools with similar values were established in Germany and in the Soviet Union: the Bauhaus (1919–33) in Weimar and Vkhutemas (1920–30) in Moscow. Vkhutemas has often been reductively referred to as the “Soviet Bauhaus,” but it is misleading to suggest that it is derivative, as the seeds of its pedagogical approach were already planted in 1918 with the establishment of its predecessor, the State Free Art Workshops. Though the two schools developed independently, their points of intersections were multiple and their interest in each other’s activities was mutual.

Looking toward the Bauhaus centenary, in 2019, this exhibition explores the intersecting parallels of these two sites of radical experimentation. Its selection of ephemera, publications, and correspondence highlights the extensive circulation of ideas and people between the two institutions. Many of the items on display come from the personal papers of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the founding director of MoMA, who visited faculty at both schools in 1927–28, including Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, and László Moholy-Nagy in Dessau (the Bauhaus’s second location), and El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, and Vladimir Tatlin in Moscow. Barr took this opportunity to collect from them first-hand information, books, catalogs, and photographs, which shaped his vision and multi-departmental plan for MoMA, established in 1929.

Organized by Meghan Forbes and Evangelos Kotsioris

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Charting Fluxus: George Maciunas’s Ambitious Art History

March 6–May 6, 2013

Fluxus was an international network of artists active in the 1960s and 1970s. Through the tireless efforts of its founder George Maciunas, Fluxus presented festivals and concerts and distributed artists’ multiples, which Maciunas fabricated in his Soho loft. Collective, performative, anti-institutional, and irreverent, Fluxus sought to bridge the gaps between different artistic mediums and between art and life.

In 1973 Maciunas announced his intention to design a grand art history chart, an exhaustive chronicle of Fluxus that would also narrate the movement’s origins since the beginning of performance-based art. Later that year, he produced the breathtakingly detailed Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional, Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Art Forms, which he called, simply, “the chart.”

The chart positions Fluxus, often relegated to an art historical footnote, as the culmination of a distinguished artistic lineage. It elucidates connections between various artistic phenomena that are often considered only in isolation.

Maciunas’s chart—which he never considered complete—reveals not only the history of Fluxus but also an ambitious reckoning with modernism and its legacy. This exhibition of objects in the Museum’s Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Archives presents the “final” 1973 version of Maciunas’s chart alongside archival documentation that illustrates its genesis and its significance in the very history of art it maps.

Organized by Julia Pelta Feldman, Project Archivist

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“This is the way your leverage lies”: The Seth Siegelaub Papers as Institutional Critique

January 9–March 4, 2013

The Seth Siegelaub Papers document the activities of Seth Siegelaub, a gallery owner, independent curator, publisher, event facilitator, and seminal figure in the Conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Siegelaub organized twenty-one exhibitions, publications, and projects in North America and Europe between February 1968 and July 1971, working closely with artists such as Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner in a wide range of innovative formats, before largely withdrawing from the art world in 1972. His curatorial work took place both in physical spaces and, most significantly, in the form of books, in which he re-defined the exhibition catalogue itself as the exhibition. Siegelaub’s approach mirrored the Conceptual art movement by raising important questions about the making, display, ownership, distribution, and selling of works of art. This exhibition will highlight examples from the Papers that illustrate Siegelaub’s role in helping to re-empower artists in the hierarchical art world of the 1960s and 1970s, and will feature projects such as the Xerox Book, the Art Workers’ Coalition, the Public Press + News Network, the Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, and the January 5–31, 1969 show.

Organized by Christiana Dobrzynski Grippe, Project Archivist

Funding for the processing of the Seth Siegelaub Papers was generously provided by Mr. Philip E. Aarons.

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The Artist in Place: The First Ten Years of MoMA PS1

October 24, 2012–January 1, 2013

The institution now known as MoMA PS1 began over 40 years ago as The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, an organization dedicated to rehabilitating derelict property around New York City into spaces for artists to create and display their work. Within 10 years, the Institute had occupied the iconic P.S. 1 school building in Queens and the downtown Clocktower Gallery, developed a formal studio program that drew young artists from around the world, and maintained an exhibition schedule that frequently involved hundreds of artists in a single season. Drawing on materials from the institutional records in the Museum Archives, this exhibition chronicles the growth and development of MoMA PS1 in its first decade—from its origins as a temporary art event to one of the largest art spaces in the country—and emphasizes its enduring legacy as a central participant in the New York art world and a showcase for a critical era in contemporary art.

Organized by Jonathan Lill and Alana Miller, Project Archivist and Archives Assistant, The Museum of Modern Art Archives

Funding for the processing and creation of a finding aid for the MoMA PS1 Archives was provided by the Leon Levy Foundation.

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Paul Rosenberg and Company: From France to America

January 27–April 5, 2010

The French art dealer Paul Rosenberg (1881–1959) is renowned for his role in representing such artists as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and his archives have long been of use to museum professionals and scholars. This exhibition, the first public display of selections from this collection, traces Rosenberg’s long history and wide-ranging influence, from the Paris gallery and its international networks before World War II through the war years and the establishment of the New York galleries, and concluding with the postwar years and later decades. The materials on view reveal the evolution of Rosenberg’s relationships with artists and dealers through years of cultural upheaval and broadening of the creative field. Given that some components of the archives predate MoMA’s founding, this exhibition offers a unique look at the cultural and art historical context for the establishment of the world’s first museum of modern art.

Organized by Donald Prochera, Project Associate Archivist

Funding for the processing and creation of a finding aid for the Paul Rosenberg Archives was provided by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Art Dealers Association of America, and by the Library Council and the Trustee Committee for Museum Archives, Library and Research of The Museum of Modern Art.

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MoMA Starts: An 80th Anniversary Exhibition

October 28, 2009–January 25, 2010

The Museum has always been at the forefront of exhibiting and collecting modern art, but equally important to its mission is educating and engaging the public. MoMA has constantly created new programs—from children’s art classes to concerts in the Sculpture Garden—to supplement and enrich its exhibitions. This installation features photographs and unique documents drawn from the Museum Archives, celebrating MoMA’s founding in 1929, as well as the initiation of a range of educational and cultural offerings that together have created a rich eighty-year legacy.

Organized by Michelle Harvey, Associate Archivist

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Another Modern Art: Dance and Theater

June 24–August 24, 2009

In its early years, in addition to founding departments devoted to architecture, photography, film, and other visual art mediums, MoMA established a program dedicated to dance and the theater arts. In 1939, the Dance Archives was founded by Lincoln Kirstein for the study of contemporary dance, and in 1944 Dance and Theater Design became a full curatorial department, acquiring works of art related to the stage and organizing thematic exhibitions. This installation showcases an important but largely forgotten aspect of the Museum’s early history with a display of items from the MoMA Archives, including the Dance Archives collection.

Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist

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The Museum and the War Effort: Artistic Freedom and Reporting for “The Cause”

November 26, 2008–February 11, 2009

In the years leading up to and during World War II, The Museum of Modern Art—then in its early days—organized a number of shows intended to elicit public support of the war and to solidify America’s image as a humanitarian society interested in spreading democracy and freedom. These compelling exhibitions included works by artists who were motivated by their wartime experiences, providing a glimpse into the war-torn lands of Europe and the East and the difficulties of military life as experienced from within, as well as works produced by artists involved in government-sponsored competitions and campaigns for the war effort in the United States. This comprehensive installation documents MoMA’s wartime exhibition programming through correspondence, press clippings, and photographs from the Museum Archives.

Organized by Miriam Gianni, Records Manager, and MacKenzie Bennett, Assistant Archivist

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Dada at MoMA

May 21, 2008–July 28, 2008

To coincide with the launch of the Museum’s ambitious publication Dada in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, the ninth volume of MoMA’s Studies in Modern Art series, this exhibition provides an overview of the Museum’s long and rich history of collecting, documenting, interpreting, and exhibiting works of the Dada era. This display of original documents, letters, floor plans, installation photographs, and oral history commentary highlights landmark exhibitions at MoMA; addresses significant Dada acquisitions, key donors, and innovative film programs and scholarship at the Museum throughout the years; and documents the evolution of the installation of Dada works in the Museum’s collection.

Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist

Exhibition support is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

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Selections from the Richard Bellamy Papers

January 9, 2008–February 25, 2008

The gallerist, connoisseur, and art enthusiast Richard Bllamy left a lasting mark on the New York art world over four decades, both through his work with the Hansa, Green, and Oil & Steel Galleries and as an independent dealer. Bellamy is remembered for helping to launch and sustain the careers of many renowned artists. To mark the tenth anniversary of Bellamy’s passing and the opening to the public of the Richard Bellamy Papers in MoMA’s Archives, this exhibition presents correspondence, exhibition announcements, gallery records, and other materials illustrating his enduring legacy.

Organized by Jonathan Lill, The Henry Luce Foundation Project Archivist

Exhibition support is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

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William C. Seitz: Defending the Modern

November 7, 2007–December 30, 2007

William Seitz, who in 1955 became the first person to get a PhD in modern art from Princeton University, also wrote the earliest major text on Abstract Expressionism. While he is most known for the exhibitions The Art of Assemblage and The Responsive Eye, during his tenure as a curator at MoMA in the 1960s he continued to champion Abstract Expressionist artists, organizing significant solo shows on Mark Tobey, Arshile Gorky, and Hans Hofmann. During this time, he also curated a major show exploring Claude Monet’s late work and its effect on the New York School. Featuring correspondence among Seitz, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and the Princeton graduate committee regarding the validity of Abstract Expressionism as a dissertation topic, along with installation photographs, correspondence, and other material from the MoMA Archives, this exhibition sheds new light on one of MoMA’s leading curatorial voices of the 1960s.

Organized by Michelle Harvey, Associate Archivist

Exhibition support is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

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James Lee Byars: The Art of Writing

September 5, 2007–October 29, 2007

This exhibition includes a selection of letters written by artist James Lee Byars, who for over fifteen years engaged in an engrossing correspondence with MoMA curator Dorothy C. Miller. Written using manifold and diverse media, these letters reveal the artist’s interest in materiality, and many of the documents also have a performative nature that evokes the element of time. Drawn from The Museum of Modern Art Archives, these writings function as an intimate sketchbook; they clearly delineate the artist’s ideas while making room for experimentation with materials—often the same materials Byars used in his “mature,” fully executed works.

Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist

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cARTe moderne

November 28, 2006–January 9, 2007
11 West 53rd Street, 2nd floor corridor (outside of Café 2)
Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist

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From the Archives: The Calvin Tomkins Papers

December 5, 2003–May 2, 2004
Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist

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Mies in the MoMA Archives

Summer–Fall 2001
11 West 53rd Street, 6th Floor
Organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist, and Michelle Harvey, Assistant Archivist

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70/10: Documenting the Modern

March 10–June 26, 1999
11 West 53rd Street, Edward John Noble Education Center
Organized by Michelle Elligott, Interim Manager/Associate Archivist; Claire Dienes, Assistant Archivist/Mellon Fellow; and Michelle Harvey, Project Assistant/Administrative Assistant
Generously funded by the Edward John Noble Education Center.

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From the Archives: Pollock

November 25, 1998–February 26, 1999
11 West 53rd Street, 6th Floor
Organized by Michelle Elligott, Interim Manager/Associate Archivist; Claire Dienes, Archives Assistant/Mellon Fellow; and Michelle Harvey, Project Assistant/Administrative Assistant

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From The Archives: Léger

February 26–May 12, 1998
11 West 53rd Street, 6th Floor
Organized by Rona Roob, Chief Archivist; Michelle Elligott, Assistant Archivist; and Claire Dienes Archives Assistant/Mellon Fellow

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