Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

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Called the most influential modern art museum in the world, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, more popularly known as MoMA, is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations on the island of Manhattan. Housed in 630,000 square feet of space, the museum is home to some of the most famous modern art pieces in the world along with over 300,000 artists’ books, books and other periodicals, and files for more than 70,000 artists from around the world.


The story of MoMA begins in the mind and heart of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife one of NYC’s most famous sons, John D. Rockefeller. Abby and two of her friends, Mary Quinn Sullivan and Lallie P. Bliss, put the idea together and rented a small space in the Hecksher Building located at 730 5th Avenue. Opening on 7 November 1929, only nine days following Black Friday and the Wall Street crash, MoMA was the first museum in Manhattan that displayed works of European Modernism as well as the premier modern art museum in the county, a title which it still enjoys.

Through the years, MoMA steadily grew and over its first 10 years of operations would call three additional locations home. All this moving around was due, in part, to John Rockefeller’s refusal to support the endeavor. Rockefeller disliked modern art. However Abby was eventually able to wear him down and the land for the current site of the museum, on 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, was donated by Rockefeller himself. He subsequently gave several more gifts to the museum and became one of its most generous benefactors.

MoMA was always popular because of both its subject matter (modern art was all the rage in the 1930s) and its patrons, the Rockefeller family, along with its famous Board of Trustees which included A. Conger Goodyear, Paul J. Sachs, and Frank Crowninshield as well as both of Abby and John’s sons, Nelson and David. More than these names, however, the works featured at MoMA from the start caused headlines, including a rare Van Gogh exhibition and their groundbreaking Picasso retrospective of 1939-40.

Today, the galleries of MoMA include some of the most noted artists and works of the modern era. This includes their distinction as the permanent house of many famous works such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, and Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Main Attraction

The building on 53rd Street has been the home to the Museum of Modern Art since 1939. It is six stories tall and houses over 150,000 pieces including 22,000 films and 4 million still shots from films. In short, seeing all of MoMA, all at once, is nearly impossible.

There are a few must-see works, however. The first of these permanent exhibitions include paintings and sculpture from 1880-1940 on the 5th floor, which contains works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and Frida Kahlo. On the 4th floor, works from 1940-1980, are displayed starring pieces from the likes of Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol. Finally, works from 1980-Present are exhibited in the Contemporary Galleries on the 2nd floor. In addition to these perennial pieces, temporary exhibits of modern art cycle through MoMA several times each year. As the premier modern art museum in America, all major exhibits on the international circuit will eventually grace MoMA’s halls.

Going to MoMA also offers visitors a variety of choices. They can take either live guided or audio tours. There are even several versions of audio tours (adult, kids, teens, etc.) as well as family guides designed to help even the youngest visitors to MoMA get the most out of their experience. In addition, the main collection is available via audio tour in eight different languages. MoMA also provides digital kiosks at several different locations throughout the museum to provide visitors with an interactive experience. Finally, it is fully integrated with several wireless services, offering free web access via MoMAWiFi.

Why It’s a Must-See

Going to MoMA is truly a memorable and amazing experience for both young and old. There are so many famous works on display in its halls that art lovers will want to reserve more than one day to browse.  More than anything, however, the experience at MoMA is truly “modern,” offering the opportunity to really appreciate and enjoy modern art to visitors from everywhere and every walk of life.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. Museum of Modern Art is available on the The New York PassNew York City Explorer Pass and New York CityPass