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Barry Bergdoll Steps Down from Chief Design Curator Post at MoMA

By Suzanne Stephens
July 31, 2013

Barry Bergdoll has decided to step down from his post as Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in September to assume the Meyer Schapiro Chair of Art History and Archeology in Columbia University’s School of the Arts and Sciences.

Photo © Robin Holland
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Bergdoll, who has been at MoMA since January 2007 (while still teaching at Columbia where he has been a professor of art history since 1985) managed to create an impressive track record for well-received architecture and a design exhibitions for MoMA’s architecture and design department. He will stay on as a part-time curator there while he continues work on the Latin America show planned for 2015.

Bergdoll’s change of role comes at a particularly high moment in his museological career: his show Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light was greeted with critical acclaim and attracted 438,693 visitors while it was up from March 10 to June 24. Another exhibition, Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes, curated by architecture historian Jean-Louis Cohen with Bergdoll, has been drawing about 4,000 visitors a day since it opened June 15. Bergdoll can take credit for raising the profile of the architecture and design department, with featured exhibitions such as the Bauhaus 1919-1933:Workshops for Modernity show in 2009, and such socially conscious investigations as Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling (2008), Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront (2010), and Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream (2012), which he curated with Reinhold Martin.

Bergdoll explains the transition is bittersweet. "MoMA has provided an unbelievable platform for promoting architectural innovation to an extremely wide international audience," he says. "There are very few places where you can leverage Picasso and Matisse to engage the interest of lay audiences for such issues as global climate change and the foreclosure crisis in American suburbs."

MoMA will be conducting a search for Bergdoll’s successor in the next few months. Stay tuned.

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