This institution was founded with the support of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and other members of New York's wealthy elite who had embraced modern art in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary goal was to popularize modern art in the United States by making this heretofore European phenomenon accessable to the general public.

In 1929, the Museum opened in an existing building on 57th Street. In 1935, the Rockefeller House and its land were donated to the Museum. This became the core of the new museum's site. Stone and Goodwin's design for the initial building is an early tribute to modern architecture which had been gaining currency in Europe for over 15 years. Its flat, unornamented facade is clad with a veneer of marble, opaque glass and transparent glass. A simple pierced concrete awning caps the top floor. In keeping with the principles of le Courbusier (the formost architect of this new style), the structure is topped with a roof garden. A number of additions attest to the success and popularity of modern art. Philip Johnson added a west wing in 1951 (now the site of the MoMA Tower), as well as an east wing and the widely admired sculpture garden in 1964.

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Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone [1939], additions and alterations: Philip Johnson Associates (architect) and James Fanning (landscape architect) [1954, 1964], further additions and alterations: Cesar Pelli & Associates (design architects) and Edward Durell Stone Associates (associate architects) [1985]