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MoMA brings its exhibitions online through the Virtual Views series

Night at the Museum

MoMA brings its exhibitions online through the Virtual Views series

Installation view of Judd at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 1–July 11, 2020. (© 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Photo by Jonathan Muzikar)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) might still be closed to the public, but thanks to its Virtual Views series of digital tours, “visitors” can check out what’s going on at the museum every Thursday night.

By harnessing a combination of video, high-resolution images of every piece and didactics, a multitude of audio guides for each exhibition, tours of the galleries themselves, and interviews with curators and artists, the MoMA has managed to digitize much of its offerings. Don’t fret if you couldn’t get to the Manhattan museum before they shut down on March 13 over ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Interior view of a hung white canopy in the MoMA
Installation view of Neri Oxman: Material Ecology (© 2020 The Museum of Modern Art/Photo: Denis Doorly)

Of particular note to architecture and design enthusiasts are two exhibitions that can be fully explored from the comfort of your couch; Neri Oxman: Material Ecology, a retrospective of architect, designer, and material scientist Neri Oxman’s work with MIT’s Mediated Matter Group, and Judd, a blowout survey of sculptor Donald Judd’s work, writings, and legacy.

Of course, being able to navigate the now-empty halls of the MoMA is no substitute for seeing an exhibition firsthand—much of the power of Judd’s work stems from experiencing the simple, clean forms he worked with in person to properly appreciate their use of color and light. Still, if one just went to see the show, they would have missed out on curator Ann Temkin’s interview with Judd’s son Flavin, or interviews with three of (the elder) Judd’s former studio assistants.

Of particular note is the “Reading Judd” section, where Temkin, the Henry Kravis chief curator of painting and sculpture, joins painting and sculpture curatorial assistant Tamar Margalit and Pablo Helguera, director of adult and academic programs, to discuss Judd’s written works that paint him as a “writer, citizen, and instigator.”

A reading room with plywood materials in the MoMA
View of the reading area located outside of Judd (© 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Photo by Jonathan Muzikar)

The Neri Oxman virtual tour is just as thorough, although digital participants lose the sense of scale conjured by the large pieces that blend the cutting edge of digital fabrication and material science. What one loses in perspective, however, one gains in the audio guides of Oxman herself walking guests through the design process for four individual pieces. While we may not be able to view the monumental Silk Pavilion II in person (a twisting canopy realized by guiding silkworks to spin over a steel frame), Oxman is on hand to discuss it wherever you might be.

Also of note is the Home Movies virtual film exhibition, where the museum will continue to offer up treasures from its archives paired with discussions. And while the Virtual Views calendar might stop at the end of May, the museum is gearing up to offer a new suite of digital shows and events come June.