In the late 1920s, three grand and progressive New York ladies, Miss Lillie P. Bliss, Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan, and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., decided the world needed a museum devoted to modern art. They hired Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr., as director, and in 1929 — an inauspicious year — the Museum of Modern Art opened to the public.
Until he retired in 1967 and even after, Barr was the guiding spirit of the museum. Two of his loves — the culture of Weimar and the Bauhaus — lay behind the many exhibits at MoMA during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s dealing with modern architecture and design.
Phillip Johnson, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., and Eliot Noyes among many others curated exhibits. MoMA exhibited the furniture of Eames, Nelson, and Aalto. An exhibit in 1932 introduced the world to the International Style of architecture; one in 1938 popularized the Bauhaus; another in 1940 displayed “modern” furniture for the first time.
The connections between MoMA and Herman Miller have grown over the years. Many of our products sit in MoMA’s permanent collections.
On exhibit now
What Was Good Design? MoMA’s Message 1944–56, May 6, 2009–November 30, 2009
This installation presents selections from MoMA’s design collection that illuminate the primary values of Good Design—a concept that took shape in the 1930s and emerged with new relevance in the decades following World War II—as promoted (and disputed) by museums, design councils, and department stores.
Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, November 8, 2009–January 25, 2010
With a wide diversity of objects, including examples of industrial design, furniture, graphics, film, photography, book design, weaving, theater, painting, and sculpture, the exhibition will highlight the Bauhaus school’s revolutionary ideas of artistic education and production, as well as its enduring influence.
By Marcia Davis