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|Creator:||Hoffman, David (David Michael), 1941-|
|Title:||David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews|
|Quantity:||0.11 Linear Feet
Comprised of 2 5 7/8" x 5 1/2" x 12" boxes containing 47 compact discs
|The David Hoffman History Interviews consisted of 47 taped interviews on 28 standard audio cassettes. The order of the interviews was arbitrary and many of the tapes contained interviews with multiple individuals. A preservation project to digitize all recordings was undertaken in 2018, which led to substantial changes in the collection's original arrangement to reflect a more logical organizational scheme and to improve the accessibility of the collection. As a result of the project, all 28 tapes were preserved and digitized. Each of the 47 interviews is now its own digital file, and there are now 47 access copy compact discs. They are arranged in alphabetical order by interviewee last name with the titles they held in 1983. Each interview was subsequently transcribed, and a PDF copy is now available.|
David Hoffman is a documentary filmmaker and a lifelong strategic communications consultant who has worked for more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies. He has made 135 films which have appeared on PBS, The Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. The David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews are a collection of informal audio interviews conducted by Hoffman's film staff (identified in the Scope and Content Note) between late 1982 and early 1983. The 47 individuals interviewed were former and current MoMA staff, trustees, museum directors, artists, early modern art dealers, art critics and historians who were either directly associated or intimately familiar with The Museum of Modern Art. Hoffman's team also spoke with at least five other individuals whose interviews may not have been recorded: Margaret Scolari Barr, Lincoln Kirstein, Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller, Russell Lynes, and Kynaston McShine. We do not have documentation of those conversations.
The interviews were conducted as preliminary research for a one-hour primetime PBS television special that would have been released in February 1984 on the occasion of the Museum's 55th anniversary and completion of its Cesar Pelli building expansion project. The film was to be directed by David Hoffman, produced by Varied Productions, Inc. (a production company based in Rockport, Maine), and sponsored by a $500,000 grant from United Technologies. During the interview process, Hoffman's staff worked from MoMA's Department of Public Information offices. However, after four months of conducting research, the program was cancelled. According to Hoffman, former MoMA director Richard Oldenburg rejected the project due to the film's focus on the early years of the Museum and the Rockefellers' deep investment. Hoffman ultimately dropped the project and returned the grant to United Technologies.
Based on the interviews, Hoffman's film was meant to be a history of The Museum of Modern Art, as well as a reflection on its present and future, as told through a series of compiled interviews with very sparse narration. The format of the film and interviews was meant to mimic "the witnesses" from Warren Beatty's film Reds (1978). The film was meant to be divided into three parts: 1) the creation of the Museum and the first 10–15 years; 2) the growth of the Museum into a large institution and its increased influence on the public and the arts; 3) a commentary on what MoMA is today and where it is heading. The first two parts were meant to comprise the bulk of the film, while the final part was meant to be the last 15 or 20 minutes of the hour-long production.
The David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews consist of 47 audio tape interviews with accompanying transcripts. The interviews were recorded by Hoffman's film production staff in preparation for a one-hour television program on the history of the MoMA. The interviews, conducted with people both directly and indirectly related to the Museum, were primarily intended as an internal resource for Hoffman's team to help them decide who would speak in the final film and what topics they would discuss. Once the final selection of interviewees had been made, official film production was set to begin in the spring and summer of 1983.
The interviews were conducted by three members of Hoffman's writing and production staff: Harvey Ardman, writer; Carl Colby, producer; and Ruth Cummings, producer. Luisa Kreisberg, director of the Museum's Public Information department at the time, was present in some of the interviews with MoMA staff and trustees. All speakers on the tapes have been identified with the exception of a female speaker in the interview with Grace M. Mayer.
The interviews with former and contemporary MoMA staff focus on those staff members' careers; the formation and development of their respective departments; and their relationships with trustees and the Museum at large. The interviews with trustees focus on their role and influence on MoMA's finances, acquisitions, and exhibitions. Interviewees who have more indirect ties to the Museum, such as art critics, artists, and other museum directors, offer an outsider's perspective on MoMA, and tend to concentrate on the Museum's influence in their personal careers and the art field at large. For example, the interview with actress Lillian Gish offers significant insight into her own film career, while the interviews with museum directors Mary Schmidt Campbell and Marcia Tucker discuss the founding of the Studio Museum of Harlem and the New Museum, respectively.
Because these recordings were largely intended for internal use only, the conversations are extremely informal. Most of the individuals are speaking from memory, and while the processing archivist has annotated inaccuracies where possible, some of the information is incomplete. Many of the interviews begin and end mid-conversation and speakers interrupt each other while talking. There are frequent tape breaks as the interviewer changed the cassette, or because of an external disturbance such as a telephone or a doorbell ringing. The interviews were recorded on poor quality audio cassettes, which accounts for frequent inaudibilites. None of the interview locations or dates were noted at the time of recording; any locations or dates now specified were determined through context clues.
Despite these circumstances, the interviews provide a portrait of the Museum during the 1984 expansion. The interviewees review both the Museum's physical changes, such as the creation of the Museum Tower and modifications to the exhibition galleries, and also their various perspectives on MoMA's current and future identity. They discuss whether or not MoMA is an avant-garde institution; what type of art MoMA should collect and exhibit; the Museum's influence on contemporary artists and the art market; and MoMA's relation to other art museums. Taken together, these interviews present a rich, pluralistic view of a transitional period in MoMA's history.
The records are open for research and contain no restricted materials.
The David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews are the physical property of The Museum of Modern Art. Literary rights, including copyright belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with The Museum of Modern Art. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archivist.
The David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews were donated to the MoMA Archives by David Hoffman in November, 2005. Mr. Hoffman has signed all rights in the recordings over to the Museum.
MoMA History Interviews, [item #]. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York.
The David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews were initially processed in 2007. Though nine of the interviews had been preserved and digitized after 2007, the majority of them existed only on poor quality cassette tapes. With the support of a grant from the Contemporary Arts Council in 2018, all original 28 standard audio cassette tapes were preserved, digitized, and subsequently transcribed. In addition to the originals, a Broadcast Wave File (BWF) archival master and a DVD audio master corresponding to each of the cassette tapes now exist. A BWF archival master, a DVD audio master, and a CD-R use copy corresponding to each of the 47 individual interviews also exists.
List of Recordings
The recordings are organized alphabetically by interviewee last name with the titles they held in 1983.
|1||Margareta Akermark, Former Staff, Department of Film, MoMA|
|2||Lawrence Alloway, Art Critic|
|3||Mary Lea Bandy, Director, Department of Film, MoMA|
|4||Eileen Bowser, Curator, Department of Film, MoMA|
|5||Mary Schmidt Campbell, Director, Studio Museum|
|6||Thomas S. Carroll, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|7||Leo Castelli, Art Dealer|
|8||Riva Castleman, Director, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books, MoMA|
|9||Ivan Chermayeff, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|10||Eliza Bliss Parkinson Cobb, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|11||Arthur Drexler, Director, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA|
|12||John Elderfield, Director, Department of Drawings, MoMA|
|13||Lillian Gish, Actress|
|14||Paul Goldberger, Architecture Critic, The New York Times|
|15||Paul Gottlieb, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|16||Al Held, Former MoMA Staff and Artist|
|17||Robert Hughes, Art Critic, Time|
|18||Sidney Janis, Honorary Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|19||Peter Johnson, Rockefeller Family Historian|
|20||Philip Johnson, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|21||Richard Koch, Former Staff, General Counsel, MoMA|
|22||Alicia Legg, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA|
|23||Jay Leyda, Film Critic and Historian|
|24||William Lieberman, Chairman, Twentieth Century Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|25||Jack Limpert, Jr., Director, Development, MoMA|
|26||Donald Marron, Vice President, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|27||Pierre Matisse, Art Dealer|
|28||Grace M. Mayer, Steichen Archive, Department of Photography, MoMA|
|29||Dorothy C. Miller, Former Staff, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA|
|30||Beaumont Newhall, Former Staff, Department of Photography, MoMA|
|31||Richard Oldenburg, Director, MoMA|
|32||William S. Paley, Chairman, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|33||John Parkinson III, Vice President and Treasurer, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|34||Waldo Rasmussen, Director, International Program, MoMA|
|35||Blanchette Rockefeller, President, MoMA|
|36||David Rockefeller, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|37||David Rockefeller, Jr., Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|38||William S. Rubin, Director, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA|
|39||Robert Ryman, Former MoMA Staff and Artist|
|40||Elizabeth Shaw, Former Staff, Department of Public Information, MoMA|
|41||Mark Stevens, Newsweek|
|42||Elizabeth Straus, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|43||John Szarkowski, Director, Department of Photography, MoMA|
|44||Walter N. Thayer, Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|45||Marcia Tucker, Former MoMA Staff and Director, New Museum|
|46||Edward M. M. Warburg, Honorary Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|
|47||Monroe Wheeler, Former Staff and Honorary Trustee, Board of Trustees, MoMA|