Already seen the Statue of Liberty? Viewed the city from the Empire State Building and strolled around Central Park? It’s time to head to the Museum of Modern Art for a whole day of perusing famous paintings and remarkable sculptures.
Few places in New York City can offer the opportunity to spend almost a full day admiring some of the most famous artworks of the 20th century; reflecting on the great capacity to create beauty of some exceptionally talented human beings; relaxing in a delightful garden with water fountains surrounded by beautiful sculptures; purchasing colorful posters or books in the gift-shop; chatting with a friend over coffee or enjoying a full meal, all that at the same location. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC is such a place.
The Museum of Modern Art is located in Midtown Manhattan, on 53rd St., between 5th and 6th Ave, a few blocks south of Central Park. The museum was established in 1929, and it has operated at its current location since 1939. Between 2002 and 2004, it was closed for renovations. Currently, the Museum has nearly 60,000 m2 of wide open spaces distributed on 6 floors.
MoMA has nearly 150,000 individual items and is considered one of world’s best collections of modern art masterpieces. Of course, not all the collection is on display, but in any visit one may find some of the most famous and representative examples of modern and contemporary art of the western world.
The number of works of art on display is so broad that a complete and detailed visit could take a day or more. However, for those with little time, it is possible to focus the visit to some sections of the museum to view the most outstanding works within 2-3 hours. In my opinion, two areas of the museum are particularly interesting, and a must for every visitor; those are the fifth floor and the sculpture garden at the ground level.
The Piano Lesson, Henri Matisse (1916). Oil on canvas, (245.1 x 212.7 cm). MoMA.
The Moroccans, Henri Matisse (1915-16). Oil on canvas, (181.3 x 279.4 cm). MoMA.
The birth of the world, Joan Miro (1925). Oil on canvas, (250.8 x 200 cm). MoMA.
On the fifth floor there is an excellent collection of works by Picasso (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, Girl Before a Mirror, 1932, Three Musicians, 1921) and paintings by Miró (The Birth of the World, 1925), Dalí (The Persistence of Memory, 1931), Matisse (The Piano Lesson, 1916, The Dance (I) 1909), Monet (Agapanthus, 1926), van Gogh (Starry Night, 1889), Rousseau (The Dream, 1910), Kahlo (Fulang-Chang and I, 1937-39), and others. In the sculpture garden there are several shallow reflecting pools and 18 sculptures by various artists, including works by Picasso (She-Goat, 1950), Maillol (The River, 1948), Miró (Moonbird, 1966), and others.
Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh (1889). Oil on canvas, (73.7 x 92.1 cm). MoMA.
Three women at the spring, Pablo Picasso (1921). Oil on canvas (203.9 x 174 cm). MoMA.
Three musicians, Pablo Picasso (1921). Oil on canvas (200.7 x 222.9 cm). MoMA.
Agapanthus, Claude Monet (1914-26). Oil on canvas, (198.2 x 178.4 cm). MoMA.
Art appreciation is a very personal, subjective matter. Within the vast collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and films at the Museum of Modern Art there are works of exceptional complexity and sophistication, possibly more within the scope of understanding and interpretation of the initiated. However, there are several well-known and widely recognized works as well. In my visit, I enjoyed seeing some personal favorite paintings that I previously knew about from books or other publications, which I was keen to see “up close and real”.
Among the highlights, the magnificence of works such as "The Dream" by Rousseau and Picasso’s "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" and "Girl before a mirror" largely exceeded my expectations. Conversely, Dalí’s "The Persistence of Memory" left a bit of a want; it is a smaller and a lesser impressive painting than what I had in mind. Overall, a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York is certainly an awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience.
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ("The young ladies of Avignon"), Pablo Picaso (1907). Oil on canvas (243.
Girl before a mirror, Pablo Picasso (1932). Oil on canvas, (162.3 x 130.2 cm). MoMA.
The Dream, Henri Rousseau (1910). Oil on canvas, (204.5 x 298.5 cm). MoMA.
The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali (1931). Oil on canvas, (24.1 x 33 cm). MoMA.
Unlike other art museums, MoMA allows still photography (no flash, no video). During the summer months (June 26-September 25), MoMA is open every day from 10:30 to 17:30 hrs, except Thursdays and Fridays when it closes at 20:30 hrs. Admission is free on Fridays after 16:00 hrs ("Target Free Friday Night").