On a recent morning at the museum, curator Sarah Suzuki, who oversaw the expansion, noted that major changes to how MoMA’s collection is being shown necessitated a new approach to the physical gallery spaces. The museum is now presenting various artistic mediums together, and is giving greater visibility to some artists who have been historically underrepresented. As the museum aimed to surface new dialogues among artists, it also needed to, as Suzuki put it, “move away from traditional modes of display.”
MoMA’s director of exhibition design and production Lana Hum and her team were charged with this task. “We were thinking about and questioning this kind of anonymous white box, which is really the language of modern and contemporary art display,” Hum said. “All of the works at the time they were made were revelatory and radical, and we wanted to capture that…but we found that the white box falls short. It’s too anonymous. It doesn’t give you enough context.”
At the same time, different mediums have different requirements: Paintings can take a lot of light; works on paper can’t; film is typically shown in the dark. Wall color became an important tool for problem-solving, but also for setting tone and developing rhythm across mediums, while honoring the dialogues among artists.