The Museum of Modern Art is one of New York’s most famous and well-visited museums. With a prominent central location in Midtown, a compact but starstudded collection of art, and a modern style the museum is more inviting and friendly to a younger, contemporary audience than the stuffy old museums such as the Met. It is one of New York’s most highly-rated Museums and we take a deep look at the Museum, and its collection, to show you if it is worth Visiting.
In the MoMA Review, we take a look at all of the Museums’ best artists and the finest pieces on display at the MoMA. The Museum has some of the most important works from some of the most important artists of the last 150 years. We take a quick look at what Modern Art really is, This may Suporise you, and what sort of person would really enjoy a visit to this museum. So if you are thinking of hitting New York’s Best Museums and are wondering if you should include the MoMA on your list, then we show you exactly what to expect.
- Attraction: Museum Of Modern Art
- Cost: Adults: $25 Seniors (65+): $18 Children (16 and Under): $0
- Location: 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Av – MAP
- Visit Duration: 2-3 Hours
- Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐4.8 Stars
Incredible Museum Featuring some of the best artworks of the 20th Century. Centrally Located and compact in nature. This is a museum that shoves its masterpieces right in your face. A brilliant Burst of culture right in the heart of the City.
What is The MoMA?
Put very simply The MoMA is New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The Fairly compact Museum is held on 6 floors of primarily gallery space. The Museum is less of a Museum and more of an Art Gallerie, so here you can really only expect to see paintings and the odd sculpture. There are no historical artifacts or any such like you find in say the Met.
The contents of the Museum confuse some people and the term modern art puts many people off. This is largely a misunderstanding as to what actually constitutes Modern Art. Let’s take a quick look at what modern art really is.
Modern Art Vs Contemporary Art
Many people turn their noses up at modern art. This is from the belief that modern art is all pretentious rubbish. The phrase “well they call anything art now” often comes up. Well, this may be true, there have been some very dubious pieces of art in modern times, Modern Art has very little to do with modern times.
Contemporary art is the name given to the art of the time, not Modern Art. Modern Art is actually quite old! While Contemporary art can appear to be utter junk to the initiated, nothing more than a few boxes, lines, or splats of paint; Modern Art encompasses an era that boasts some of history’s finest talents.
Ranging from the 1860s – the 1970’s the era is less about when and more about what happened. This is the period when art changed from realism to experimentation. Prior to the period, Art was simply about recreating what the artist saw onto the canvas, when Artists such as Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin, began interpreting the scenes into surreal and Abstract forms of the real world.
This transformed the entire narrative of art and the majority of what we call art today, even down to everyday art forms such as corporate logos and imagery, bears some thanks to the visionary works of these artists.
What this means for the Museum of Modern Art is the collection is actually filled not with bizarre creations of pretentious artists of today, which really struggle to resonate with more down-to-earth audiences, but is instead filled with some of the best works of art from some of the best painters that ever lived. There are more masterpieces in the MoMA than in just about any other gallery on the planet. We take a look later on at exactly what you will find in the MoMA.
Who does The MoMA Suit?
One of the best things about the MoMA is its accessibility. The Museum is quite compact, certainly compared to the sprawling labyrinths of say the Met or the AMNH. The individual galleries are well laid out and you can simply stroll at your leisure around the art.
Art officinardos will simply adore the museum. The density of masterpieces and pieces of simply seismic importance will blow the minds of anyone with even a passing interest in Modern Art.
However, the accessibility of the museum reaches far beyond art fanatics. Masterpieces are often considered such for their simple brilliance. It takes a very uninterested soul to look into some of these pieces and not be moved.
On our first visit, I was very uninterested in the MoMA, but Kate had studied Art at University and really wanted to take a look. So naturally, I obliged (We compromised on visiting the Intrepid later in the trip, something Kate is less interested in). This makes me the perfect example of someone who is not that into art, and definitely not Modern Art.
The MoMA, simply blew me away. There are just endless works of simply stunning art that are world-renowned and pieces you will almost certainly be aware of simply through pop culture.
The MoMA is world-beating in so many regards. The importance of many of the works really makes this an absolute must-see Museum for Art Lovers, real Art fanatics should come to New York JUST to see the museum it is right up there with the best in the world. As far as modern art goes, it is completely unsurpassed, nowhere else even comes close.
How long does it take to visit The MoMA?
We would go as far as to say that if you only visit ONE museum in New York, make it the MoMO. The combination of simply stunning art, its central location, and the much more compact form factor, make it a real injection of culture. If visiting galleries and Museums is not high on your to-do list, the MoMO gives you that instant hit of high-octane art. You can visit the MoMO in less than two hours, which is far more easygoing than the half-day you need to spend at the Met.
Make no mistake though, the instant hit delivery by no means diminishes the quality on display here. The MoMA’s smaller servings are every bit as high quality as the Met, or in fact anywhere else in the world. You can easily spend longer if you really are intent on soaking in the art, or even less if an absolute highlights reel tour is what you are after.
2 hours gives a good balance of soaking in the best pieces, finding those slightly more obscure works, and getting a good grasp of the museum without overdoing it. It is the perfect balance of intense culture, but in smaller doses, so you can head off and see the rest of the City after.
Booking The MoMA
Currently, the Museum requires timed entry slots. This is to ensure social distancing due to Coronavirus restrictions. You can book a timed entry slot directly below via Tiqets.com.
Another option is to use one of New Yorks Attractions Passes. If you are planning on visiting a few museums or any of the other amazing New York Attractions then a pass can save you a whole heap of cash over booking individually.
We take a look at all the Pass options here and compare them with each other, showing you how much you can save. The MoMA is included on most passes so you can easily fit this amazing Museum into your schedule. The passes offer various other benefits and in our opinion really help you see more do less. So definitely check that out if you plan on visiting a few attractions.
What To See At The MoMA
The Modern Art Museum is principally a series of Painting Galleries. There are some sculptures, and even an outdoor Sculpture Garden. There are Photography galleries and even nods to film as an art form. All these however are secondary to the Museums’ stellar lineup of masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest ever artists.
Here we document some of the standout pieces and what you will get to see on your visit to the MoMA. If these paintings do not excite and entice you then you are unlikely to find the MoMA an interesting place to visit. However, for art lovers, this is likely the lineup of your dreams!
1 – Vincent Van Gogh
The MoMA only has a small Van Gogh collection, with only 2 or 3 paintings on display. However, any museum in the world would trade every Van Gogh painting they have for the one special piece the MoMA has in its collection. The Starry Night.
This is widely considered Van Gogh’s masterpiece and is one of the most recognizable paintings n the art world. And it is truly stunning. Painted from the view of the asylum cell shortly after the incident with his ear, the painting displays the artist’s genius along with a little of his madness.
The first time I rounded a corner and caught sight of The Starry Night, I was physically taken aback. It had such a powerful impression on me. Not really ever considering myself an Art enthusiast the scene really changed my appreciation of Art and led me down a huge rabbit hole of learning more and more about the world of art. If that sounds all a little pretentious then I would have agreed, however gazing down into this image really did have a deep and profound effect on me!
This one picture is worth visiting the Museum for, a highly important piece and one that can genuinely change your appreciation of the art world. A seriously stunning masterpiece by one of the greatest artists to have lived.
The Museum also has in its collection the counterpart to this painting Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape painted during the day Van Gogh identified it as a daytime counterpart to The Starry Night. The painting is not always on display but when it is is sits wonderfully with the Masterpiece.
2 – Claude Monet
On a personal level, Monet is probably our favorite artist. We are not nearly qualified to judge this based on a technical level, but on a personal appreciation of the aesthetics, Monet is the artist that rises above the rest. And what we mean by that is we just like his art. His Water Lillies work is our favorite, and again the stunning 3 piece Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond triptych is our favorite of those.
This basically makes this probably our favorite painting in the world, a pretty bold claim. But hardly from the most authoritative source. It is, without a doubt, an incredible piece of art and demands your attention the second you enter the gallery. Benches are handily provided so you can really sit and take in the delightful scene of the clouds reflecting lazily on the water. Taking you instantly to a lazy summer’s day beside some quiet pool somewhere in Europe.
The Collection holds a few other Monets but nothing stands up to the wonderful triptych which is a whopping 6.5ft ×42ft in its entirety, that’s a big painting. It really is one of those works that leave a lasting impression on you. It’s not one to miss, but at 42ft wide, you are unlikely to!
3 – Pablo Picasso
The Museum has a huge collection of Picasso’s however the vast majority are not on display and many are sketches and unfinal pieces. The works on display are often some of his best pieces and his most important works. None more so than the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Picasso is considered one of the most important Artists of the Modern Art World and the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is considered his most important piece, which makes this one important work of art!
The piece is much talked about in both its style and meaning. Even the Wikipedia Page has over 12,000 words written about it. That’s one PAINTING! This seminal Piece marked Picasso’s change from the traditional artist into the Modern art grandmaster he is known as today. Without this piece, we would unlikely know who Picasso was and his work and legacy non-existent. Considering the seismic influence of the man, that’s some heavy weight on the shoulders of this canvas.
The Piece itself is pretty huge 8 feet by 7.5ft but nothing compared to the impact it had on the world. Perhaps quite shocking was the criticism it drew at the time! It’s hard to believe how much wrath was unleashed on a painting of 5 nude prostitutes, but at the time the backlash was very real.
The Painting is now known only for its brilliance and the brilliance of the man. Other works of his to look out for are:
There is also a selection of Picasso’s sculptures in the outdoor sculpture garden. Sculpture is something Picasso was less well known for or celebrated, but they are interesting nonetheless.
4 – Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne is less well known outside of Art Circles but is arguably every bit as important to the genre as Picasso. In fact, Picasso would probably argue more so as he, and other titans of the art, name Cézanne as the father of them all! Cézanne was the pioneer of modern art, paving the way for the masters to follow.
The MoMA has fewer Cézannes in its collection than the Met but there are still plenty of excellent pieces of his. The Bather, part of his Bathers series, is notable for displaying a humble specimen, artists of the time were well known for exaggerating reality and painting more sculptured forms, however, the Bather is a rather shabby specimen and focus’s the viewer onto the painting as a whole rather than the subject.
Chateau Noir is an example of his prettier outdoor landscapes, painted from his final home in Aix-en-Provence before his untimely death. With Cézanne’s importance to art unquestionable, his works at the MoMA are unmissable, what’s more, is they are simply wonderful just for what they are too.
5 – Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, known for his weird and wacky surrealist art has many pieces in many museums across the world, however one painting of his stands out more than any other, a real masterpiece that is probably known better than the man himself. In other collections, Dali’s work is but a footnote, because they lack this one special painting.
Persistence of Memory is Dali’s seminal masterpiece and is considered the pinnacle of the movement. This is one of those pieces so recognizable that even if you know very little of art it’s cultural significance makes it instantly recognizable. The soft melting clocks against the harsh rock background. It is instantly thought-provoking, as you search to find meaning in the madness.
One really notable element of the image is its size. This work is really quite tiny, it would be very easy to miss but normally is given away by the crowd drawn in by one of the most well-known artworks of the 20th Century.
6 – Andy Warhol
Warhol is defiantly on the border of Modern and Contemporary art and his Pop Art style is less attractive to us than the more traditional works of say, Monet, or Van Gogh. But the cultural impact Warhol made demands his work to be taken seriously.
The Campbells Soup Cans are his most famous work and again they reside here in the MoMA, Here 32 near-identical images of the varying Soup flavors produced by Campbell’s show art can be whatever the artist says it is. Here, simply by repeating the same thing over and over the image transforms from a dull still life to a cultural masterpiece.
This is definitely the kind of art that makes you question why, but there is undeniably something intriguing going on and the impact the works have had on popular culture make this a great addition to the Collection.
7 – Jackson Pollock
Another borderline contemporary artist, Pollack really blurs the line as to what constitutes art. To some, these are childish splats on a canvas’ others see them far more deeply and meaningfully. At various times Pollock’s works have sold for record amounts so it’s clear some people value his work very much indeed.
There are several Pollocks at the MoMA from some numbered works such as No.1A and huge One: Number 31 to his earlier offerings such as Shimmering Substance and Stenographic Figure, which are slightly more recognizable as paintings, rather than paint splats.
Whatever your views on his art, the large bold prints are really quite something to behold, and simply knowing the perceived value of what you are looking at is pretty striking, this is quite rare in Museums as so much of what is on display is simply priceless, Pollocks works are more openly bought and sold so the value becomes more apparent.
8 – Henri Matisse
Henry Matisse is far less known than most artists of this period but to those in the know, he is every bit as important as his contemporary, Picasso. Like Picasso Matisse helped evolve and develop Art from the classical forms into the modern era.
Matisse favored bright colors and bold styles, which differed greatly from many artists of the time who had taken impressionism to heart. Dance (i) is one of his most famous works and sits proudly in the MoMA and perfectly encapsulates his style.
Other Notable Matisse works in the MoMA collection are The Red Studio, The View of Notre-Dame, Goldfish and Palette, the Moroccans, and the Plum Blossoms.
9 – Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau was unappreciated in his time, but later became known as a true genius and left a stunning legacy of work and influence. Two stunning examples of his art lie in the Collection at the MoMA.
The Sleeping Gypsy – A stunning piece depicting a lion investigating a sleeping woman, Presumauably deciding whether or not to eat her?
The Dream – A lucid jungle scene, with a nude woman, tribal snake charmer, Lion and Lioness, Elephant, birds, and vibrant Lotus Flowers.
Many Many Others
These are just the standout pieces of a frankly ludicrous collection of art. So many think of the Met when thinking of iconic New York Museums but the MoMA’s collection of iconic, seminal, and masterpieces of art are unsurpassed in just about any museum worldwide.
It is far less diverse than the Met, which houses staggering amounts of art from all periods of human history, from ancient Egypt, Asia, and the middle east right up to the modern day. The MoMA only focuses on the quite narrow period of Modern Art, spanning 1860-1970ish, but what an era!
There are thousands of stunning pieces and Art lovers will be in their element taking in everything the Museum has to offer. On top of permanent exhibits, the Museum regularly has pop-up exhibitions and touring works from some of the best artists in history.
Is the MoMA Worth it?
For anyone with only a passing interest in either art or culture, then the MoMA is probably the best value attraction in New York. The Galleries are packed with jaw-dropping masterpieces of genuine world-class standing. There is not a single museum in the world that does not cast envious glances at MoMA’s collection. Even the Lourve, in France, home of the Mona Lisa, the world’s most famous painting, would kill for The Starry Night, or Demoiselles d’Avignon, even The persistence of Memory.
The Smaller, compact nature of the Museum means visits can be packed into even the busiest days of your trip, right in the heart of Midtown the Museum is super convenient. This all means in terms of Time spent the Museum is fantastic value.
$25 is really nothing, when you consider you really are getting access to some of the Worlds finest works of art, the fact under 16s get in for free is a real bonus too. This means families can visit for much less, and maybe spark a lifelong love of art in your kids.
As we said above, if you only visit one museum in New York, make it the MoMA. It is by far the most concentrated experience and the world-class art just hits you repeatedly in the face.
If the MoMA can’t stir something inside you, art is just not your thing, so look elsewhere for your kicks, but at least you haven’t spent 5 hours traipsing around the Met to come to that conclusion!
Have Your Say
Have you visited the MoMA? What did you think of the collection? How did you find the experience? What were the stand-out pieces for you? Whatever your thoughts on the MoMA just let us know below? Is there a museum in New York You prefer? Or maybe you just want to tell us how much you Love the MoMA?