Roberta on the Arts
The New MoMA: Part I of a Series
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Memorable Misadventures
Our Sponsors

The New MoMA: Part I of a Series

- In the Galleries and Museums

The Museum of Modern Art
The New MoMA: Part I of a Series
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019

Press: Matt Montgomery

(See Queens MoMA Matisse and Picasso Review)
(See New MoMA Jazz Benefit Gala Review)

First Visits to New MoMA
Overview: Contemporary Galleries and Photography

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 14, 2005

As a resident in the MoMA neighborhood and, for many years, a member of (the old) MoMA, I was one of those New Yorkers, who resented the long trek to Queens to see my favorite paintings. However, the long trek did include some nice Greek restaurants and markets, and the temporary, Queens MoMA was expansive and adventurous. Now the old MoMA has become the new MoMA, with a major expansion and re-design, and it is quite a sight and still an adventure. In two recent, brief visits, I explored the Contemporary Galleries and the Photography exhibits. I also lunched in the new Café 2, at which you order from the gourmet Italian bar, and a waiter brings your food and drinks, according to a number flag. More upscale dining is also available, but I and my guests were anxious to tour the new spaces.

These new spaces are quite dramatic, and one can peek at a favorite Matisse dance work on high, through an open wall, and one can view a favorite, oversized Monet Water Lilies in a communal room, now, rather than in the old “Water Lilies Room”, as we called it. The new MoMA has the famed outdoor Sculpture Garden, Gallery Talks, Adult and Education Programs, Family Programs, Services for Special Needs Visitors, Audio Services, Film and Media Programs, and, as usual, some of the best shopping in town, with separate gift, design, and book stores, in person and online. There is also PS 1 Contemporary Art Center (See MoMA Website for more details on spaces and services).

In the Contemporary Art (1970-Present) Gallery, whose exhibits change at least once/year, I was engaged with Bingo (1974), almost the entire red façade of a Niagara Falls, NY home, with a display of three of its gridded sections. One side is the clean, shingled exterior and one the well worn, painted interior walls. I thought this was a creative use of an everyday object, the American home. There were works with fluorescent lights, like Bruce Nauman’s Human/Need/Desire (1983).

There was an enormous cube, which a child might like to explore, and a 2001 elaborately illuminated series of photographs by Jeff Wall, which depicts a writer in a cluttered space with over one thousand light bulbs to allow him not to be “invisible”, a takeoff on Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man. This is a detailed and fascinating work. There were also somewhat sexually explicit videos and other items that may shock the faint of heart, but they need to be taken into the context that all art is not to please. Some works of art are to provoke both thought and emotion.

MoMA’s photography collection includes about 25,000 works, mostly dating from the 20th Century (since 1890). This collection is so expansive that the exhibits are ever changing and sometimes thematic, such as the upcoming, Summer 2005 contemporary photography show. I happen to love the works of Eugene Atget, French chateaux and all that a Francophile could desire, and his oeuvres were on view. There were photographs of historic New York, both Manhattan and the boroughs, as well as rural and urban America. One amazing photograph, Andreas Gursky’s 2000 Tote Hosen, encompasses thousands of people crowded into one space with up-stretched arms. I’ve never been a fan of Cindy Sherman, but her photos this time were interesting and subdued.

Watch for future features of the “new MoMA”, with a peek into additional galleries and revisits to contemporary and photographic works. MoMA can be a full day’s experience and is well worth the admission, as you could explore favorite paintings or new works of sculpture and photography, catch a favorite or premiere film, dine overlooking the sculpture garden, and shop for a gift for a friend or yourself.

Spaces at Newly Expanded and Re-Designed MoMA
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Spaces at Newly Expanded and Re-Designed MoMA
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at