Around the Block: MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the largest art institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. In addition to its exhibitions, the institution also organizes the Sunday Sessions performance series, the Warm Up summer music series, and the Young Architects Program with the Museum of Modern Art.

Founded in 1971 by Alanna Heiss, a leader of the Alternative Spaces Movement, the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center was opened in a deserted Romanesque Revival public school building. This building, dating from 1892, served as the first school in Long Island City until 1963, when the First Ward school it housed was closed due to low attendance and the building was turned into a warehouse.

The museum opened in June 1976 with the inaugural "Rooms" exhibit, for which Heiss invited a great number of artists - many of whom experimented with such new forms as video, installation, and performance art - to install their work throughout the building.

Over the next three decades, P.S.1 became one of the most respected exhibition and performance spaces in New York, with such exhibitions as New York, New Wave (1981); Stalin's Choice: Soviet Socialist Realism, 1932–1956 (1993); Greater New York (2000 and 2005), and Arctic Hysteria (2008); Robert Grosvenor (1976); Keith Sonnier (1983); Alex Katz: Under the Stars, American Landscapes 1951–1995 (1998); John Wesley: Paintings 1961–2000 (2000), and Gino De Dominicis (2008). Rooms were also used as artists' studios. In 2000, the organization became affiliated with The Museum of Modern Art, giving it greater financial stability, extending the reach of both institutions, and combining P.S.1's contemporary mission with MoMA's strength as one of the greatest collecting museums of modern art.