What are the first things that come to mind when you see the piece above by Blinky Palermo, Untitled (1970)? What about the color: does the hue bring up any particular associations?

On Wednesday, January 9, museum educator Marian Cohen prompted visitors to start thinking about the most basic elements of this work, such as color, and sparked exploration of this seemingly minimal artwork as part of a Roving Gallery Conversation. By having in-depth conversations about this work, Marian and the visitors considered the many nuances and details that are present in it. For example, can you tell that the work is made out of three colors of fabric, sewn together to create the single plane?

Taking time to look closely at works such as this one can be extremely rewarding, and our Roving Conversations are great opportunities to do so! Look for us in the galleries the next time you visit: you never know where our Roving educators will appear next.

Image credit:Untitled,Blinky Palermo (German, 1943-1977). 1970. Dyed cotton mounted on muslin, 6’ 6 ¾" x 6’ 6 ¾" (200 x 200 cm). Gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder. © 2013 Blinky Palermo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany


Have you ever wondered what type of preparations go into creating a Gallery Conversation? Or have you thought about what works and ideas you would discuss if you were to lead a tour of an art Museum?

Last month, as part of our Roving Gallery Conversation series, museum educators Larissa Bailiff and Paula Stuttman invited visitors to think about these very questions in the Painting and Sculpture galleries. In conversational exchanges with visitors, the educators explained that they were working on putting together a tour that focused on Minimal and Conceptual works and asked for advice on what types of questions or themes they should include. One topic that came up repeatedly was the question of what role the artist played in the creation of the work; both the educators and the visitors agreed that this subject was an important one to cover while dicussing these types of works, since both movements deliberately questioned the notion that the artist’s “hand” must be present in an artwork.

This Roving Conversation offered a specfic way to look at the works in the galleries. What do you think; how might this way of considering artworks as a part of a thematic conversation change the way you experience the art and the museum on a whole?

On your next visit to MoMA, look out for our museum educators in the galleries; through conversations with them and your fellow visitors, your encounters with artworks can take on entirely new dimensions!


While walking through the Surrealist galleries here at MoMA, or while gazing at a Surrealist composition, do you ever stop to wonder how these artists were able to tap into their subconscious mind and produce such unusual and compelling combinations of images?

One of the methods that Surrealist artists used to exercise their subconscious and liberate their minds was a chance-based, collaborative game known as “Exquisite Corpse.” In this game, players pass around a folded piece of paper, each drawing one section of a figure or writing one part of a sentence. The key element of this game is that the sections that came before are always folded back, so each player contributes his or her portion of the composition in isolation. When the paper is unfolded at the end, a composite figure or sentence unveils itself, often with surprising or outlandish results.

A few times over the past weeks, MoMA museum educators Marianne Eggler, Deborah A. Goldberg, and Jane Becker headed into the Surrealist section of our Painting and Sculpture galleries in order to invite visitors to participate in this very game. Those who took part had an opportunity to slow down and explore the processes that fueled many of the masterpieces on view in those galleries. The photos above show both the visitors’ in action making and diplaying their own Exquisite Corpses and an example of one composition that is part of MoMA’s collection, which Yves TanguyJoan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray made collaboratively and entitled Nude (1926-27).

Next time you visit MoMA, keep your eyes out for our educators; you never know what activity or insights they will be offering in the galleries!

-Alison Burstein, 12-Month Intern, Adult & Academic Programs


Have you ever walked into a gallery, looked at a piece, and wondered, “Why is this Art?” Yesterday afternoon in a Roving Gallery Conversation, MoMA museum educators Deborah A. Goldberg and Jennifer Gray encouraged visitors to ask just that question about MoMA’s new acquisition, Robert Rauschenberg’s Canyon (1959).

While this question might seem simple on the surface, it can spark meaningful conversations and explorations. For example, as the educators pointed out yesterday, Rauschenberg’s work is Art not only because it is aesthetically rich and radical in its process and materials, but also also because it is deeply engaged with art history, as it directly references Rembrandt‘s Ganymede in the Claws of the Eagle (Zeus) (1635) (shown above).

What do you think: what distinguishes a modern artwork from a non-art object?

Look for MoMA educators leading Roving Gallery Tours throughout our galleries on your next visit here.


Have you ever wondered why certain things end up behind the glass walls of a vitrine in an art museum, while others end up on the shelf of a souvenir store? 

Last week, as part of the Roving Gallery Conversation series, museum educators Marianne Eggler and Deborah A. Goldberg invited visitors to consider this question in MoMA's Contemporary Galleries by stationing themselves next to two works from MoMA’s collection, Katharina Fritsch’s multiiple Madonnenfigur (Maddona Figure) (1982), and presenting another one of these figures, from the educator’s own collection, for visitors to touch. 

The educators framed the conversation with the prompt “let’s talk about originality and appropriation,” and the conversations that ensued explored the ways that Fritsch references “cheap souvenir figurines sold near church pilgrimage sites in Germany and France” in both the work’s content and its production as an unlimited edition. The fact  that visitors could hold an artwork while having the conversation brought the question to light and emphasized the ways that the bounds between art and product can become deliberately blurred based on an artist’s choices.

This topic takes on another dimension in light of the last picture above, of Fritsch’s work Figurengruppe (2006-08) in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden, which includes the same Madonna figure in a different scale and context. What do you think: does the size of the figure impact its status or originality of it as an artwork?

Look out for MoMA’s educators roving in the galleries on your next visit! 

– Alison Burstein, 12-Month Intern, Adult & Academic Programs


When visiting museums, many of us rely primarily on our sense of sight. But what would happen if we took the opportunity to engage our other senses, like smell and touch, to experience the artworks? What new insights might such a multi-sensory approach open up?

Museum educators Larissa Bailiff and Paula Stuttman explored these very questions, focusing particularly on the sense of touch, this Thursday, January 17 as part of a Roving Gallery Conversation. These educators used an approach that MoMA Access Educators regularly offer to visitors with low vision or who are blind, but this time they provided the chance for anyone who was present in the 5th Floor galleries to wear a glove and use their hand to trace the outline of two amazing sculptures, Matisse’s La Serpentine and Picasso’s Woman’s Head (Fernande).

The visitors who participated in this activity expressed a range of reactions to the experience, noting for example that their sense of touch helped them to better understand the materiality of the piece and the process by which it was made. In the case of Picasso’s sculpture, some visitors even mentioned that the feel of the sculpture’s surface further articulated the woman’s emotional state for them.

In addition to the valuable insights that visitors gained while taking part in this activity, we all had the opportunity to get closer to history than we normally do in a museum, where “no touching” is traditionally the number one rule.

Keep your eyes out for our educators on your next visit so that you can join us for these unique encounters with our collection.

Alison Burstein, 12-month Intern, Adult & Academic Programs

Image Credits:

La Serpentine, Henri Matisse  (French, 1869-1954), Issy-les-Moulineaux, fall 1909. Bronze, 22 ¼ x 11 x 7 ½ “. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Woman’s Head (Fernande), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Paris, fall 1909. Bronze, 16 ¼ x 9 ¾ x 10 ½. Purchase © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Rociety (ARS), New York


On Wednesday, February 6, MoMA museum educators Larissa Bailiff and Midori Yamamrua headed back into the exhibition Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde, armed with scores from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit.

In the top photo, you can see what unfolds when educators conjure the spirit of Fluxus within MoMA’s galleries. While taking on Map Piece– “Draw a map to get lost” (1964 Spring), visitors made themselves comfortable on the floor with drawing paper and pencils and sketched an array of interpretations of this score. What do you think: how would you choose to enact this instruction?

The below photo shows Yoko Ono and John Lennon with a copy of the book in 1971. I chose a photo from this time period because one of the amazing things that our activities with Grapefruit have shown is how relevant and engaging the work’s instructions continue to be today, despite the differences of cultural and historical context.

Next time you’re at MoMA, keep your eyes out for our educators: you never know where we will be or what we will be doing next!

Alison Burstein, 12-Month Intern, Adult & Academic Programs

New Tumblr Series from MoMA Talks!

We are so excited to roll out a few series we have been secretly posting for the last month or so - now you can see all of them in one easy place!  Just click on one of our three series listings on the right side menu of our blog to see all our posts. Check them out!

Monday Muse - Since we started tumbling, we have been sharing words of wisdom and inspiration from all types of creatives -writers, artists, philosophers and more.  Start your week off right with our weekly #mondaymuse series… or check out our series whenever you like here!

Roving Guides - This fall, MoMA educators began inserting guerrilla interventions in our gallery spaces - from impromptu readings and drawing sessions, to hands-on encounters with objects. These spontaneous interactions are meant to engage our visitors with each other and the artwork in new, surprising, and unexpected ways.  Since we started these experiments, we have been taking pictures and notes, and we have been talking to visitors about their experience. The Roving Guides series compiles our observations to share insight into the happenings. Search #momaroving anytime or see all our posts here. The Roving series will post at least twice a month.

Two Sides - We’ll explore the relationship between two objects, ideas, or images. What makes them different or what makes them alike?  From art to nature, come have a little fun with us pairing all kinds of things! Search anytime with #twosidesmoma or #sheetalp or bookmark this link. Two Sides will post twice a month. 


You might have read on our Tumblr about  Roving Gallery Conversations – these have become a weekly program that you can read about here.

As an evaluator, I have been observing these interventions since they began as a pilot program, learning many things in the process.  One of the aspects I’m most interested in, however, is what makes an experience memorable.  Rather than speaking with visitors immediately following the art intervention, I send out an online survey a little later to find out what people thought of the interaction. This lag in time between their participation in a roving and when they complete the surveys also helps us to figure out if the experience was memorable or not. The fact that most visitors can remember details about their experience, including where they were in the museum, suggests that these experiences do indeed stick in visitors’ minds; in fact, 96% of visitors who completed a survey said they considered the experience to be memorable one.

“It was unique and fun. The fact that I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen made it more memorable”

“I still think about the time I spent listening to and speaking with the Roving gallery guide. I have visited a few museums in my 60 years. Docent talks are always lecture style. This was different and interesting”

“Absolutely! Now I can retell my experience of my visit to the museum to my family and friends and not just ‘I visited MoMA and saw paintings/sculptures, etc.”

Descriptive categories  that emerge from visitors’ explanations about their experiences with Roving Gallery Guides include: surprising, unexpected encounters, personal experiences that enhance understanding, interactive and hands-on, encounters that open up eyes and minds to see new things and consider different perspectives, socially engaged, learning experiences, chances to connect with MoMA, opportunities to talk with someone and unique occurrences. Perhaps these are the ingredients for a memorable experience?

Thinking about the experiences visitors are having with Roving Gallery Guides makes me think about my own memorable museum visits. Have you ever had a museum visit that you consider to be memorable? If you have, what made it memorable?


If you have been to MoMA’s exhibition The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, you might have encountered Jules Spinatsch’s 2003 installation entitled, “Panorama: World Economic Forum, Davos 2003. Camera A, Congress-Center North and Middle Entry, 2176 Still Shots, 24.01.03, 06h35-09h30, Hotspots: World Economic Forum, Davos. Hotspot A4.1, promenade; Hotspot A1.1, north and middle entry; Hotspot A2/3/5/6.1, parking, congress hotel, carlton, congress center.” As the lengthy title suggests, this installation relates specifically to a particular event and a series of locations. The wall label in the gallery further elaborates on this by noting; “This installation documents the preparations for the January 2003 World Economic Forum, in which the entire valley of Davos, Switzerland, was temporarily transformed into a high-security zone. In the period leading up to the forum, Spinatsch installed three remote-controlled cameras outside different buildings. One was programmed to record up to 2,500 images over three hours.”

On Wednesday, January 23 as part of our Roving Conversation series, Museum Educator Agnes Berecz dove into this work and share a few relevant resources. Expanding upon the insights from the wall label, Agnes had the above diagram on hand to assess the installation of the cameras, noting that camera A was the one that captured images. As an additional layer relating to the work’s content, Agnes also presented the following quote from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as a way to think further about the work; “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.(…) You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

Sometimes all it takes is a few simple references to crack open the interpretation of an artwork and prompt a fulfilling and thought-provoking encounter. What do you think: might the above pieces of information change the way you think about the work?


On Wednesday, February 13, museum educator Jennifer Gray dove into the  the exhibition 9+1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design  to stage a hands-on intervention.

While sharing insights about the architectural designs and drawings that are on display in the exhibition, Jennifer invited visitors to both sketch aspects of works on display and draw their own ideas for a well-designed city, public space or housing complex. Since it can be hard to understand the processes that go into designing and rendering such spaces, drawing exercises like this are helpful ways to engage with this type of subject.The second photo shows one visitor’s architectural drawing; can you tell what they designed? How would you approach the prompt of sketching your own ideal city?

Next time you’re in the Architecture and Design galleries here at MoMA, keep your eyes out for our roving educators or try sketching some of what you see on your own!