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Explore some of MoMA's most famous exhibitions over the last 90 years for free

Did you know the Museum of Modern Art once had a guard dog named Don?

Written by
Howard Halle

One of the most important institutions in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art hasn't just preserved art history, it’s made it, too. From its opening in 1929, MoMA was instrumental in the development of 20th-century art and culture, not only for painting and sculpture, but also for film, architecture and design. In short, without MoMA, the last 100 years might have looked very different.

The Modern’s history, then, is a long and illustrious one, and you can catch up on it for free through an interactive online feature (one of many) on the museum's website. Called MoMA Through Time, it draws upon The Modern's archive to recount key exhibitions, such as a 1931 Henri Matisse show that was MoMA's first ever devoted to a single artist; a 1939 retrospective of Pablo Picasso, which brought his most famous painting, Guernica to MoMA, where it remained until it was repatriated to the artist's native Spain in 1981; and 1955's “The Family of Man,” which is considered one of the greatest photography exhibitions ever mounted.

MoMA Through Time also covers things that may surprise you. Did you know that in its infancy, The Modern relied on a guard dog named Don (a German Shepherd) for building security? Or that there was a major fire there in 1958, necessitating the evacuation of the collection by moving objects hand-to-hand down the main staircase?

The feature concludes with the 2019 opening of the museum’s latest expansion, and for all the talk of the latter’s focus on diversity, MoMA Through Time also reveals that decades ago, the museum pioneered exhibits of African American, Native American and Latin American artists. All in all, it’s a fascinating look at modernism’s foundational showcase.

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