During the month of August, we’ll be streaming treasures from MoMA’s film archive and sharing fascinating cinema history—with a new selection of films released each Thursday. We’ve chosen films that everyone—from famous filmmakers and actors, curators and eminent scholars, to high school students just discovering cinema studies—asks to see again and again. You’re gonna get a little Warhol, a lotta Dada, and more about the landmark early Biograph studio than you knew you wanted to know.
Access to the film collection is fundamental to our mission. The Department of Film was founded in 1935 as the Film Library, following a mandate to not only save and display films to research and study, but to share them outside the Museum as well. The Film Library facilitated research by (and benefited from the contributions of) some of the OG film historians, including the great German scholar of modernism Siegfried Kracauer, who wrote his Film 101 classic, From Caligari to Hitler, using Film Library resources. Department head Willard Van Dyke established the Film Study Center in 1968, and today the Celeste Bartos International Film Study Center hosts nearly 200 appointments annually and answers hundreds of reference questions. Its services are open to everyone, free of charge. As long as you are researching cinema, you can arrange a visit.
Unfortunately, we cannot host on-site appointments during a pandemic, so instead we’re offering you this glimpse into the vaults—as well as a live Q&A with chief film curator Rajendra Roy and filmmaker Todd Haynes—as part of our Virtual Views series. Additionally, several of the works in Film Vault Summer Camp would be on view if the Museum were open, so in a sense we’re also bringing a corner of our recently expanded gallery spaces into your living room (or your phone).