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What to See at MoMA in New York

By Izhar Alonso, Ana Torres |

Plan your visit to the Modern Art Museum in New York, MoMA, and travel across time and culture. Enjoy its top 5 art masterpieces by following our advice! 

Art is one of the many things that motivate people to travel, since they choose destinations based on the museums they want to visit. DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, knows that your passion for culture knows no limits. For this reason, we’ve shared with you our experiences at the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, the Guggenheim, and now the MoMa. Do you want to know which works of art you’ll find there?

New York is famous for housing one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in America. It’s a dynamic capital, perfect for eclectic tourists who want to visit different kinds of places every day. If you visit the Big Apple, DINKtravelers invites you to visit one of the most famous museums in the world: the Museum of Modern Art, better known as the MoMA.

How Was the MoMA Collection Created? 

The impressive amount of works of art that make up the collection at this museum was brought together by Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Quin Sullivan and Abby Rockefeller. This threesome of modern art fans was known as “The Daring Ladies”. During the 1920s they bought paintings by the most representative artists of the European vanguards. They admired Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. However, they didn’t actually have a space where those works could be exhibited. Therefore, these ladies decided to rent a gallery where they could exhibit these treasures and contribute with the promotion of this type of art. They had to move the exhibition on several occasions but the most renowned venue was the Heckscher building, on 5th Avenue and 57th Street.

MoMA Construction and Current Location

Finally, in 1932, these ladies’ dream came true. It was then that they were able to create an actual museum that would be known as the Modern Art Museum. The MoMA bought its current venue on 5th Avenue and 53rd Street, and it opened its doors in 1939. It’s interesting to learn that as part of the facilities it included the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, designed by architect Phillip Johnson and finished in 1953.

Renovation of MoMA in the Year 2000 

After several years the Museum of Modern Art became the city’s artistic icon. The amount of visitors it had, as well as the artworks’ demanding conservation measures made them redesign the building in 2000. The new building’s designer was the Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. It has an auditorium, exhibit halls, a souvenir store, offices, and a sculpture garden. Since 2004, people have enjoyed visiting this beautiful place, marvelling at its exhibitions, and even having a cup of coffee while checking the museum’s virtual app on their smartphone.

How to Get to MoMA by Subway 

Find the Museum of Modern Art as you walk along 5th Avenue and reach 53rd Street, near the Rockefeller Center and the Radio City Music Hall. If you take the subway, get off the train at 5th Av-53 St. of the E blue line or the M orange line. Consider that the museum is quite big, so plan a full day for your visit. Wear comfortable shoes and take your camera with you.

Tips to Visit the MoMA 

  • Before you begin your visit, get the audio guide; you’re only required to leave an ID at the information desk, but it doesn’t have to be your passport.
  • After your visit, rest for a while at the sculpture garden, take some pictures, sit next to the ponds, and have a nutritious lunch at the museum’s cafeteria.

The 5 Must-See Works of Art at MoMA

Even though it’s difficult to choose only 5 highlights, DINKtravelers suggests taking extra time to admire these 5 paintings:

#1 The Young Ladies of Avignon (1907) by Pablo Picasso

This painting is famous in art history because it represents the beginning of Cubism. They say that Picasso was inspired by a group of prostitutes whom he painted nude using geometric shapes. The artist also included African masks in his work because these items had impressed him during a visit to the Museum of Man in Paris. Location: Floor 5

The Young Ladies of Avignon (1907) by Pablo Picasso

#2 Starry Night (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh 

It’s worldly known for the story behind its creation. The artist painted it when he was committed to  the mental institution of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in the French countryside. Vincent himself told his brother and patron Theo Van Gogh in one of his letters that whenever he felt the need of religion, he would go out at night to paint the stars. Therefore, this work reveals his deepest spirituality only a year before his passing. Location: Floor 5

Starry Night (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

#3 The Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dalí

This painting is also known as Clocks. It’s a metaphor in which the Spanish painter showed human’s incapacity to capture time –even with the most advance technology– and how memories never fade away. This work of surrealism plays with the eye by proposing organic shapes that inspire the observer’s imagination. Location: Floor 5

The Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dalí

#4 The Dance (1909) by Henri Matisse

This is a version of the original painting you can find at the Hermitage Museum, in Russia. However, the power of its dynamic shapes reveals the creative personality of  its author. Matisse is famous for his theory of color in painting. He also broke rules and created post-impressionist shapes. Another fun fact is that Matisse used the term “cubism” to describe the works by Picasso and Braque, since he only saw cubes in them. Location: Floor 5

The Dance (1909) by Henri Matisse

#5 Water Lilies (1914-1926) by Claude Monet

Without doubt, it’s a magnificent work about one of the Monet’s preferred topics: water lilies. In this great-scale painting you can appreciate the influence Japanese prints had on French impressionist painters. They were called like that because they portrayed the impression things caused on them when seeing them in plain sunlight. For Monet, observing nature, many times in his own garden, was enough inspiration to create painting series that captured the landscape. When contemplating Water Lilies you’ll see Monet’s experimentation with technique, which has made this painting one of the most renowned works he produced. Location: Floor 5

Water Lilies (1914-1926) by Claude Monet

MoMA’s Expansion Project in 2019  

October 21st, 2019 is a special date for MoMA. It will reopen its doors after a four-month period of extension and remodelling works. The result? 3,600 square meters of additional exhibition halls and The Studio auditorium to host live shows and screenings.

MoMA Souvenir Store in NYC

If you fall in love with a specific work of art and you want to take it home, the souvenir store sells hundreds of items such as posters, magnets, t-shirts, watches, and more! You’ll also find art books and exclusive art design collectibles. Redecorate your home with the most famous paintings in art history.