Bard Graduate Center Logo
  Event Banner Image

Nina Stritzler-Levine
Professor of Curatorial Practice and Director of Focus Project Exhibitions, Bard Graduate Center

Against Histories of Exhibitions: Alfred H. Barr Jr., and Curating Architecture at MoMA

Founded in 1932 the Department of Architecture at MoMA was the museum’s first curatorial department and the only department dedicated to architecture in an art museum in this country until the 1980s. In contrast to the prevailing analysis of this practice that privileges temporary exhibitions, this talk considers other museological intentions for architecture that Alfred H. Jr. tried unsuccessfully to initiate when he became the first director of MoMA in 1929. His directorial thinking emerged in areas of the MoMA archive unrelated to the history of exhibitions and on the surface unrelated to architecture. In the archival sediment a trove of institutional writings appeared that complicate the depiction of Barr as a formalist and the critique of the International Style canon. These illuminating texts deemphasize aesthetics while asserting the “need” for a collection of architectural representations that he argued would move the museum “beyond the narrow limits of painting and sculpture” to address issues of importance to the architectural profession and the general public. Ultimately Barr envisioned but never realized a museum of modern art in which the curatorial practice of architecture would be at the center of the production of knowledge about contemporary life.

Tuesday, April 6, 12:15 pm

Register Button

This event is open to the BGC community and invited guests of the speaker. This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event.