This post is by Jessica Tiare Bowen, one of our contributors.

Walking into the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is like having a smorgasbord of the finest gourmet food from every different culture around the world.  Needless to say, it’s impossible to gobble it all up in one sitting without feeling impossibly overwhelmed and, dare I say, uncomfortably full.  So instead of trying to cram it all in at once, why not try a delectable taste of one culture?  In museum talk, we call these “gallery conversations”.

Saturday I headed to MOMA to sample one of these gallery conversations for myself.  The conversation is led by museum lecturers, educators, graduate students, and even the occasional curator.  They lead discussions daily at 11:30a.m and 1:30p.m. on specific topics of the museum’s permanent collection as well as special exhibitions.  The lectures are free with Museum Admission.  They cap out at 25 people, so be sure to get there early.

The gallery conversation I attended was on the special exhibit Seeing Red: Hungarian Revolutionary Posters, 1919, and was led by the very knowledgeable Jennifer Katanic.  She led our group to three different sections of the museum, so that we got a proper introduction to the historical setting and art movements during this time.

First we went to see paintings by the Russian Kazimir Malevich, who believed that artists were not cameras, thus there was no reason to paint reality. Next up was the portfolio of wartime artist Otto Dix, who used his art to speak out against the atrocities of war. We ended with the works of Mihaly Biro, who had been actively involved in displaying his art on posters to help influence popular opinion regarding the Socialist revolutionary movement.

The gallery conversation lasted an hour, and Jennifer did an excellent job of making the exhibitions relevant and non-intimidating to the group.  She welcomed questions throughout the tour.  Upon leaving MOMA, I felt as though I had truly tasted a small sliver of the museum.  Just enough to make for interesting conversation at my next dinner party, but not so much to make for nightmarish flashbacks of Art History class.

Seeing Red: Hungarian Revolutionary Posters, 1919 gallery conversations will be repeated on the following dates:

  • Sunday, July 10th, 2011, 1:30p.m
  • Saturday, July 16th, 2011, 7:30p.m.
  • Sunday, July 24th, 2011, 11:30a.m.

For more information about the gallery conversations, please visit the MOMA’s website.

Image via ana carina lauriano‘s flickr stream