UT has previously collaborated with New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on a number of T-shirts inspired by the many masterpieces in the Museum’s collection. For the four graphic designs in this latest collection, however, we turn to some iconic archival materials celebrating the Museum itself. Art Director Kevin Ballon gives us a glimpse at what happens behind the scenes at MoMA and speaks about the key role that design plays at the Museum.
For over a decade, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has been partnering with UT to create collaborations celebrating the artwork housed in the Museum. This spring’s collection ventures into fresh territory with designs selected by MoMA to shine a spotlight on the Museum itself. Kevin Ballon, an Art Director at MoMA, helps lead a team that spends every day connecting people and art through design. Now, he tells the story behind each of the T-shirts designed by his team.
“All of the designs are from MoMA’s archival materials,” says Ballon. “The first graphic features the ‘Average Day at the Museum’ diagram that first appeared in the 1940 annual report as part of the Museum’s decennial celebration. MoMA designed it in 1939 to showcase the activities taking place at the Museum on any given day, emphasizing the key role of the staff in championing creativity. We love this graphic because it reveals how the Museum has always been a ‘laboratory that welcomes the participation of the general public’—in the words of Alfred Barr, the first director of MoMA—ever since its founding in 1929.”
The second graphic in this collection is a photograph depicting the installation of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies”—one of MoMA’s most beloved pieces—into the Museum’s galleries in 1959. Ballon hopes that this photograph will offer a new way of looking at this famous work by giving a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at an art museum. Finally, a map from a 1939 brochure promoting Art in Our Time: 10th Anniversary Exhibition highlights the transportation hubs used by visitors to get to MoMA’s galleries. The Museum’s staff take pride in the fact that many people list MoMA as one of the most important parts of a trip to New York City, just as they did in the Museum’s early days.
Ballon says that graphic designs like these have always been a bridge for sharing MoMA’s ideas, identities, traditions, and history, as well as stories from behind the scenes. By printing them on everyday items like T-shirts, he hopes that MoMA will feel more accessible both to those who have visited the Museum in person and those who have not.
“One of the best things about working at MoMA is that my work in design can have a real impact on the lives of others,” he says. “But I don’t think the original design teams who created these photographs and graphics could have ever imagined the scope of the global audience that will be seeing them now decades later.”
Art Director, MoMA
Founded in 1929 by three progressive women under an educational charter, The Museum of Modern Art connects people from around the world to the art of our time. MoMA aspires to be a catalyst for experimentation, learning, and creativity, a gathering place for all, and a home for artists and their ideas. MoMA realizes its mission by establishing, caring for, and presenting a dynamic collection of the highest order that reflects the vitality and complexity of modern and contemporary art; by welcoming millions of people every year to explore its exhibitions and participate in onsite and online programs; by sustaining a library, archives, and conservation laboratory that are recognized as international centers of research; and by supporting innovative scholarship and publications.
Release dates and prices may vary. Some items might be limited to certain stores or countries of sale or may be sold out.
© 2022 The Museum of Modern Art