Even before setting foot inside the new-and-improved Museum of Modern Art, which recently unveiled a 40,000-square-foot expansion and permanent collection rehang, one might glimpse its towering, kaleidoscopic book wall.
Containing more than 2,000 tomes on art, design, and activism, the 30-foot-tall shelf anchors the museum’s redesigned store, extending from the lower-level space into the ground floor lobby. Visible even from the street, the wall of books doubles as a microcosm of the museum’s sprawling collection within.
“We worked very closely with the museum to establish a book selection that reflects its ethos,” explains Emmanuel Plat, MoMA’s director of merchandising. In particular, the museum wanted the store’s book offerings to reflect its reimagined permanent collection presentation, which foregrounds gender and racial equity; more artists of color and female and non-binary artists are represented across its expanded galleries.
Together, MoMA’s curatorial and retail teams formed a book committee who worked for more than two years to assemble a representative grouping. “We tried to reflect some of the themes explored in the rehanging of the collection by mixing all forms of art represented in the museum,” Plat continued, “but also by featuring a greater cultural and gender diversity.”
The result is an expansive selection featuring books produced by MoMA’s in-house publishing team, renowned art book publishers, and a range of smaller, independent global imprints. “Year round, MoMA will be inviting a small imprint to feature their books for a few months on the front fixture of the book section,” says Plat. To kick off the program, Mexico City–based Gato Negro Ediciones will present their titles, which blend art practice and political discourse, through March 1, 2020.