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The New Museum is the only museum with a mission to promote new art and new ideas, and the only museum in New York City devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the Museum was conceived as a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists whose works did not yet have wide public exposure or critical acceptance. It has a unique history of being founded by a curator—Marcia Tucker—who had neither personal resources nor a collection, just abundant resourcefulness and a passion for living culture. At its inception, the Museum lay somewhere between a grassroots alternative space and a major museum devoted to proven historical values. The deliberate paradox was embodied in the name “New Museum” and Tucker’s daring vision and combative idea to present new art in a critical and scholarly context.
The New Museum has evolved over the past thirty plus years, from its humble beginnings as a startup in a one-room office on Hudson Street in 1977, to a gallery space in the New School later that year, to its expansion and relocation to SoHo in 1983, to the inauguration of its first freestanding, dedicated building in 2007. Our culture has also evolved over this period of time and contemporary art is more widely embraced today. The New Museum has an important and influential legacy and role to keep breaking new ground. A site of ongoing experimentation and questioning of what art and institutions can be in the 21st century, the New Museum continues to look to the future through programming that is open, fearless, and alive.