MoMA reveals restock of its contemporary galleries in yearly rehang

Around 50 new works are on view, including 16 examples never before seen at the museum


The Museum of Modern Art has re-installed its contemporary galleries with some 50 works from its permanent collection. Amid recurring criticism that the museum focuses the majority of its resources on filling gaps in its early 20th-century collection, the current exhibition reveals that over the past five years MoMA has quietly been acquiring new works of art.

The newly installed contemporary galleries opened in the same week as the United Nations General Assembly in New York and MoMA was the site of a reception for former President Clinton’s Global Initiative, securing a press contingent at the museum.

The presentation, the second display of the museum’s contemporary holdings since the institution returned to its newly expanded Manhattan headquarters last November, includes 16 works acquired in the last five years that are on show for the first time. Works by Mona Hatoum, Eva Hesse, Janet Cardiff, James Lee Byars and Yinka Shonibare are notable additions to the collection.

Curators Klaus Biesenbach and Roxana Marcoci, who says MoMA remains committed to the acquisition of contemporary art, have divided the expansive two-storey space into 14 discrete rooms, arranging the works thematically. Video and audio pieces, photographs, paintings and large-scale installations dating from 1965 to the present will remain in their current display until 3 July 2006.

In an effort to re-present the museum’s expanding contemporary holdings, the galleries will be reinstalled annually by MoMA curators. Ms Marcoci says: “It is unprecedented for a major museum to re-install its contemporary collection annually. Every iteration is going to have a different focus, and will create new meanings by showing the works in different contexts. This process gives us the opportunity to review the collection and to assess its strengths and weaknesses.” Because MoMA does not have a contemporary art department, works are drawn from all six curatorial areas of the museum: architecture and design, drawings, film and media, painting and sculpture, photography, and prints and illustrated books.

On show for the first time:

Marina Abramovic, Art must be beautiful, artist must be beautiful, 1975; Alighiero e Boetti, The six senses, 1973; James Lee Byars, The table of perfect, 1989; Janet Cardiff, 40 part motet. A reworking of Spen in Alium by Thomas Tallis, 2001; Mona Hatoum, Pin rug, 1999; Eva Hesse, Ringaround arosie, 1965; Gary Hill, Viewer, 1996; Thomas Hischhorn, Provide ruins I, 2003; Paul McCarthy, Painting face down—white line, 1972; Nicolas Nixon, The Brown Sisters series, 2000-05; Charles Ray, Bench, 1974; Dieter Roth, Solo scenes, 1997-98; Chéri Samba, Condemnation without judgement,

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'MoMA restocks its contemporary galleries'