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MoMA has posted a mesmerizing collection of home movies you can watch online

Written by
Howard Halle

These days, if you want to record some aspect of your life for posterity, all you have to do is pull out your smartphone, shoot a video, post it on social media and, voila!, you're done. The total time it takes depends on how long your video is, of course, but the actual mechanics—fishing your phone out and posting the results—takes, like, a minute. Undoubtedly, Millennials and Gen Z'ers couldn't imagine any other way of doing it, but, of course, there was—from VHS tapes shot with camcorders to good old-fashioned home movies. As it happens, the latter is the inaugural subject of the Museum of Modern Art's latest online feature, Virtual Views.

Much like MoMA's offering of online courses, Virtual Views lets you engage with the museum while it’s closed during the lockdown. Here, you’ll find nine home movies spanning the 1920s to the 1980s, which, when taken together, offer an intimate history of the 20th century.

The films were part of MoMA's exhibition, "Private Lives Public Spaces," which featured some 200 home movies presented on 102 silent screens in a darkened, immersive installation. The selections, which were digitized for the occasion, were mined from an archive of 600 similar artifacts that had been collected by The Modern over 90 years.

The examples posted on Virtual View include home movies by famous cultural figures (Aaron Copland, Salvador Dalí and Charlie Chaplin) along with more prosaic documentations of family and daily life.

You can check out the trailer below, and the rest of program here.

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