When the Museum of Modern Art reopened its doors last October, fresh off the heels of a $450 million expansion, it revealed galleries arranged in a newly considered layout. Out was the linear logic that drove the spaces before, and in was an integrated method of presentation cohered by theme rather than date.
In the film department, a public exhibition greeted patrons, filling the downstair’s lobby with meticulously digitized home videos. The installation, titled “Private Lives Public Spaces,” created a patchwork grid of moving images, culled from over 90 years of collection. In one frame, a baby performed acrobats, while in another, a family smiled during a communion party. The exhibition, compromising 102 silent screens, melded highly produced videos with those done by amateurs.
This spirit of integration transposes onto the museum’s newly launched digital series “Virtual Views,” which kicked off April 9 with “Home Movies,” an exhibition inspired by the film department’s “Private Lives Public Spaces” installation. The series debuts a new virtual offering every Thursday and includes artworks, discussions with curators, audio playlists and written pieces.
Rather than a direct translation of physical exhibitions to the website, the digital features create a unique online experience. “Home Movies,” for example, organizes the “Public Lives Public Spaces” installation into three central themes: celebrity, the experience of place and family. Here, the museum presents examples that best speak to these categories, while also providing context for these decisions — mimicking what it might feel like to have a curator-led tour of the holdings.
The Félix Fénéon virtual dive, which debuted last week, features highlights from the exhibition (led by MoMA curator Starr Figura), audio snippets, an exploration into those creating work at the same time as Fénéon and selections from the artist’s anonymous column for Le Matin.
The series will continue this Thursday with a look into the work of sculptor Donald Judd. The virtual exhibition will include a live Q&A with curator Ann Temkin and the artist’s son, Flavin Judd. A recorded version of the talk will be available for viewers after the livestream. Those who wish to submit questions for consideration can do so through an online form prior to the event.
“Virtual Views” adds to an ongoing list of digital programming offered by the museum. In addition to its more than 84,000 digitized works (viewable online for free), the institution also offers a slate of free classes through its Coursera catalog. In March, the museum presented 12 printable line tracings of Louise Lawler’s photographs for children and adults to use as coloring sheets as part of the series “Artist Project.” The downloadable pages were followed by original works from Dan Perjovischi and Allan McCollum.
Since its closure in March, the Museum of Modern Art — like many art institutions across the country — has faced financial strains. In April, Hyperallergic reported that the museum terminated contracts with freelance educators due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.
“With the open-ended closure of the Museum, we’ve faced the painful reality that there will be no new contract assignments to offer to a group of excellent freelance educators who work on an as-needed basis at museums across the city, including MoMA,” the museum said in a statement to Hyperallergic. “We are deeply grateful for their past contributions to the Museum. We wish them and their loved ones safety and health in this difficult time.”
Top Image: Paul Signac. Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890. Photo: Paige Knight.