MoMa & Conservation / by Cornelius

On Friday, September 9th, we visited the Museum of Modern Art. Prior to this trip into the city, I had only been to the MoMA once in my life—I believe it was two years ago. Now, I saw the permanent collection during my last visit but seeing all the iconic works this time around meant something completely different to me because I was seeing them after learning about them in Art History 320: Early 20th-Century Art. When I saw these works two years ago, I didn’t know what I was seeing; the art historical significance flew right over my head.

Out of all of the works in the MoMA’s permanent collection, I enjoyed being face-to-face with Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. I appreciate the micheif he injected into the art world by questioning the long held assumptions about what art should be and how it was to be made. His intention was to create a work that didn’t have to rely on being aesthetically pleasing, but remained art from a mental aspect—because he had chosen it to be art.

Aside from the art history superstars I got to see, I really took interest in the works of Bruce Conner. His aesthetic has just the right amount of creepiness for my liking. I sat in on the screening of his triptych installation and watched it two times through. This was partly because I was walking a lot and needed to sit for a bit but I did it mostly because it was incredibly interesting. I couldn’t quite comprehend it all just the first time through because all three projections were flashing scenes very rapidly to a point where it was hard to catch up.


After strolling around the MoMA, we met up with a conservator who specializes in sculpture conservation. I knew that priceless works of art had to be maintained over the years but I never really stopped to think about how difficult that process is.  It was very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes at the MoMA. Until I was standing over the works of famous artist, I previously did not know what exactly went into the preservation of genius. It seems like the most stressful job in the world being responsible for revitalizing a delicate work of art that costs more than your life. So much could go wrong and if it does, the whole art world comes down on you for destroying history. I have such respect for the people in this competitive field having learned a bit about what they do on a daily basis. 

Photo taken inside of the MoMA conservation lab

Photo taken inside of the MoMA conservation lab