Film has been an integral component of MoMA since 1939, when The Museum opened its permanent home in Manhattan and launched the first film exhibition program in America. Today, the Department of Film organizes exhibitions, produces film festivals, and serves the public with a variety of wide-ranging and innovative programming. The Museum also houses four state-of-the-art theaters ranging in capacity from 50400 seats, each with first-rate film and video projection capabilities.
The Department of Film encompasses the Collection, the Film Preservation Center, the Film Study Center, and the Circulating Film and Video Library.
The Department of Film houses the strongest international film collection in the United States and one of the most extensive international collections of motion pictures in the world, totaling more than 25,000 films between the permanent and study collections. The Collection incorporates all periods and genres of film.
The Collection allows the Museum to sustain an unparalleled study and exhibition program for the public, scholars, and filmmakers. This program has provided an education for modern artists in all mediums, and individual films have been studied by filmmakers at every level, from writers, directors, and producers to costume designers, production assistants, and grips.
In an institution that is a treasure trove for the study of the twentieth century, the film collection is an invaluable asset.
The Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center
In the mid-1980s it became evident that the film collection's size and particular conservation requirements precluded storing it at the Museum in midtown Manhattan. The then-director of the Department of Film, Mary Lea Bandy, approached the chairman of the Trustee Committee on Film, Celeste Bartos, with the idea of creating an off-site facility to house the collection.
Ten years later, on June 20, 1996, the Museum opened The Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center, an $11.2-million state-of-the-art storage facility in Hamlin, Pennsylvania. The Center houses a majority of the Museum's film holdings.
The Celeste Bartos International Film Study Center
The Film Study Center offers screening facilities for viewing films from the Museums collection; a large selection of screenplays and dialogue continuities; extensive files of reviews, articles, and program notes; reference books; special collections; film indexes; and current periodicals.
The Circulating Film and Video Library
Established in 1935 to collect films that illustrate the historic and artistic development of motion pictures and to establish the medium as a major art form, the Circulating Film Library includes over 1,200 titles covering the history of film from the 1890s to present. It also incorporates the Circulating Video Library, an important collection of work by leading video artists. The Museum continues to add to its holdings of early silent films, contemporary documentaries, animation, and avant-garde and independent cinema, and to make these available to viewers who otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them.