Contemporary Music in Modern Art Museums in New York
By: Anna Kaplan
Published: 05/01/2015
Uploaded: 05/12/2015
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration, Arts Administration Program Theses, Music, Opera, Other, Visual Arts, Museums, Crafts, ARAD Theses: Fall 2013 to Spring 2015
Tags: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), music, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American

Description/Abstract: Modern art museums in New York City have a long history of showcasing music by living composers, thereby expanding their role beyond the exhibition of visual art. This music is often challenging and intellectual rather than aesthetic in its nature, struggling to find an audience in a traditional concert hall setting. This thesis explores the reasoning behind programming contemporary music in institutions that seemingly are only committed to the presentation of visual art. It looks at the history of the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as museums and as presenters, as well as the people in charge of contemporary music in each institution. It examines their curatorial process, audience development strategies, and their place within the institution in relation to curatorial departments. Most of all, it examines the connection of presenting contemporary music to the museums´┐Ż mission.

Research reveals that in a museum setting, this music comes to life as it is often tied to a performance component such as dance, opera or theater; to an exhibition on display; or to the gallery it takes place in, making it a more immersive and at the same time a more accessible experience for the audience. This as well as the strong brand of these institutions and the passionate work of the people behind the programming contributes to the popularity of events that do not tend to be as popular elsewhere.