October 7, 2009
Both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are famous institutions in New York City. From the fact that both museums are heavily visited not only by the citizens of New York but also by tourists from all over the nation stems the single similarity in their institutional priorities. Being such famed museums, both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art have the responsibility to maintain certain pieces or collections in their institution. A young man who remembers being amazed by the Greek and Roman statues as a little boy should be able to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see the same sculptures. Aspiring artists from all over the world should be able to stop by again and again to draw inspiration from Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh at the Museum of Modern Art. The people expect that certain signature pieces of both museums remain in their possession continuously.
However, the similarities between their institutional priorities stop there. Because the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an encyclopedic history museum and the Museum of Modern Art has labeled itself as a “modern art” museum, there are drastically different expectations from the audience. While the Metropolitan Museum of Art is considered a history museum, it has the right to have breadth in its departments, but is not necessarily required to have depth in any particular culture or time period. However, the Museum of Modern Art has a much smaller range in topic, and so it must really try and include as many pieces as possible. Whatever is “modern art” must be included. Also, what is considered “modern art” is constantly changing. Therefore, the Museum of Modern Art is under additional pressure to have new pieces, new collections available.
I think that it must be very difficult for the Museum of Modern Art and that they must be under a lot of pressure, just as much as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although in a very different way. I would imagine that so many contemporary artists are looking for representation, and that so many pieces seem worthy of space in this museum.
Personally, from our class visit to the Museum of Modern Art, I really enjoyed the room of Claude Monet’s Waterlilies. What really struck me as odd was that the subject of each painting was the same, or at least similar. However, I was drawn to particular paintings and not others. Waterlilies painted in certain color schemes were very beautiful to look at while I did not really like other versions. Through this room, I realized that despite the many differences between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, there is one similarity in the institutional priorities of ALL museums: all museums must provide pieces that allow the audience to reflect and ponder upon, and walk out of the institution having earned something and having given a part of themselves to the pieces as well. I think that both the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and especially the Museum of Modern Art have succeeded in doing that.