I recently just started reading the New York MoMA’s new book MODERN WOMEN. It represents five years of research of the museum’s collections and exhibitions. According to Glen D. Lowry, MoMA Director: “This publication is, in a sense, a work in progress, an artifact of a continuous effort to research our collection and rethink the consensus of art history.” The book acknowledges the efforts of women that have helped shaped the museum today.
In 1929, Lillie P. Bliss, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and Mary Quinn Sullivan founded the MoMA. All three women were collectors, knowledgeable, and well connected in the art world. They felt that New York City was in need of a museum that focused on modern art and created a Board of Trustees.
Lillie P. Bliss was a collector, patron, educator, and lender to the Armory Show in 1913. When she died, she left most of her art collection to the MoMA. The gift included major artworks from Cezanne, Derain, Gauguin, Modigliani, Picasso, Rousseau, and many others.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was a socialite, philanthropist, collector, and second generation matriarch of her family. She was the driving force behind MoMA and was elected on the museum’s Board of Trustees.
Mary Quinn Sullivan has a diverse background. She supervised drawing curriculum in New York City, lectured, collected art, and developed plans for the MoMA. Sullivan also opened an art gallery and hosted many exhibitions.
Three pioneering women had the determination, will, and imagination to conceive MoMA. Something many people take for granted.