The purpose of the Oral History Program is to fill gaps in the written record on specific topics. Oral histories serve to enhance and complement the Museum Archives' holdings of documentary material with first-hand observation, recollections and reflections. Importantly, our Oral History Program is MoMA-centric. Increasingly, interviews with artists are being undertaken to discuss the role of the Museum in the life of the artist, as well as to interview the artist about works of art in the Museum Collection and to discuss the artist's process, use of materials, and the larger context within which a particular work of art was made.
The Oral History Program was initiated by The Museum of Modern Art Archives. In 1990 the Archives received a grant of $52,600 from the NEH to initiate its Oral History Program and to produce 40 oral histories. [Note: three oral histories in the collection pre-date the formal establishment of the program, those of Eliza Bliss Parkinson Cobb, Sidney Janis, and Monroe Wheeler.] Donations from foundations and individuals, and Museum in-kind contributions were utilized to match the NEH grant. Additional funding was provided by a bequest to the Museum in 1992 from the Estate of Morris Leverton. Subsequently, the program has been underwritten by generous contributions from the Museum's Contemporary Arts Council, International Council, and Trustee Committee on Archives, Library and Research Support; from individual donors Leslie Garfield, Agnes Gund, Gilbert Silverman, and Joanne Stern; and from a generous grant from an anonymous donor.
Series I: Artists
Series II: Trustees and Donors
Series III: Administrative and Curatorial Staff
Series IV: Museum Building and Expansion
Series V: MoMA PS1
Series VI: Art World
Series VII: Exhibition Documentaries
Series VIII: Restricted Interviews
Other collections containing recorded interviews in The Museum of Modern Art Archives are the Sound Recordings of Museum-Related Events collection, the Video Recordings of Museum-Related Events collection, the David Hoffman MoMA History Interviews, and the Calvin Tomkins Papers.
Transcripts of the oral history interviews are accessible for use in the Archives' reading room in Manhattan. Audio recordings of the interviews are restricted and not available. Digital video footage of artists who were interviewed as part of the Museum's 2011-2012 Artist Oral History Initiative is available for use in the Archives' reading room in Manhattan. The Museum Archives seeks to make the oral history interviews acessible to researchers to the fullest extent possible in accordance with signed agreements with the participants and established access policies. Please note that some oral histories have been conducted but have not at this time been cleared for public use and are listed in Series VII: Restricted Interviews.
TERMS OF ACCESS:
The Museum of Modern Art owns all legal rights to the interviews and any transcriptions and recordings of those interviews, including any copyrights.
Published citations should take the following form:
Long version: Oral History Program, interview with [interviewee], [date], p. [page number]. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York.