MoMA Is Selling Rare Books From Its Archive for as Little as $25 to Raise Money for Its Exhibitions and Education Programs

More expensive titles are on offer for $2,500.

The Museum of Modern Art's store. Photography by Iwan Baan, Courtesy of MoMA.
The Museum of Modern Art's store. Photography by Iwan Baan, Courtesy of MoMA.

Like most cultural institutions across the country, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is reeling in the face of economic crisis.

Now, in an effort to raise a little extra money, the museum is selling rare books from the archives of its publishing arm.

More than 100 classic titles—from historic monographs and vintage how-to books, to publications on painting and sculpture from MoMA’s collection—are now on sale through the MoMA Design Store’s website. The books, which went on sale last week, range in price from $25 to $2,500, and the proceeds will go towards the museum’s exhibitions and education programs.

For the highest price in that range, you can pick up a first-edition copy of William Eggleston’s Guide, widely considered to be one of the most influential photo books of the 20th century. The book was published in conjunction with the artist’s controversial 1976 exhibition, which presented color photography in a fine-art museum for the first time.    

If you have $500 to spend, you can grab a hardcover collection of essays by Mies van der Rohe, a survey of Jan Groover’s pictures, or a monograph of Dubuffet prints.

The majority of the books are on sale in the more recession-friendly range of $50 to $200. Among those is the catalogue of a sprawling 1977 exhibition about works from the museum’s collection ($150); a book surveying the work of Bill Viola ($100); and a primer on modern painting written by Alfred Barr, the museum’s first director ($75). There is even a book on art by young children ($100).

Stock for these rare and out-of-print books is limited, and several titles have already been sold out. And for those not willing or able to shell out, but who still want to have a better understanding of MoMA’s storied past, the museum is also offering a series of free online courses covering topics such as contemporary art, postwar painting, and photographic literacy.


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