The Museum of Modern Art and Artstor announced a project to digitize nearly 23,000 photographs from the MoMA Archives’ comprehensive collection of exhibition installation photographs and distribute them through Artstor. This material richly documents every major exhibition held at the Museum, beginning with the inaugural exhibition of 1929. Enhanced and comprehensive online access to this important collection will strongly encourage and advance scholarship on the history and institutions of modern art.
In reaching this agreement, Milan Hughston, Chief of Library and Museum Archives and Max Marmor, Artstor’s Director of Collection Development, expressed their shared enthusiasm in collaborating to use digital technologies to make these high quality images of contemporary art and architecture more broadly available for noncommercial educational and scholarly purposes.
The Museum’s 75th Anniversary in 2004 gave us a chance to highlight this collection in a special publication, Art in Our Time, edited by Museum Archivist Michelle Elligott and Harriet Bee. Those images were only a small sampling of a vast body of important material, and we are grateful to Artstor for recognizing the value of digitizing the entire collection for distribution,” comments Hughston.
“Our new collaboration with staff of the MoMA Library and Archives,” adds Marmor, “represents an important milestone in Artstor’s ongoing effort to provide teachers, scholars and students with digital image collections documenting the development of modern and contemporary art. We are delighted to help make this important photographic archive available now online for non-commercial use in education and research.” The MoMA installation photographs are highly prized by art historians and other scholars. In addition to Art in Our Time, they provided the basis for Mary Anne Staniszewski’s pioneering The Power of Display: a History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998).
The MoMA Archives was established in 1989 to preserve and to make accessible historical documents about the Museum and modern and contemporary art. The Photographic Archive documents and maintains the complete visual history of the Museum. “The installation photographs of exhibitions at MoMA are a unique and valuable resource. Like the other collections in the Archives, these materials tell the story of modern and contemporary art. Because of MoMA’s singular role in the introduction and dissemination of modern art, these photos document this evolution and are critical to the study of modern art as well as the history of modern museums, and the field of installation design,” according to Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist.