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#22 Authority and Anxiety with MoMA Director Glenn Lowry


Guest Glenn Lowry with host Charlotte Burns. Photo credit: Colin Miller

Art Agency, Partners
#22 Authority and Anxiety with MoMA Director Glenn Lowry

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

”In the particular political moment in which we live, the question of authority and voice has become increasingly important,” says Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA. ”Who has the right to speak for whom? How do we imagine someone else’s voice?”

In this wide-ranging conversation, Lowry describes the museum as a crucible during a ”very flammable moment” and talks about the role of culture today. He discusses technology at the museum and the value of thinking slowly. Talking with host Charlotte Burns, Lowry covers various topics including MoMA’s expansion, the possibilities of closer institutional collaboration, the importance of anxiety—and lots more besides. 

“In Other Words” is a presentation of AAP and Sotheby’s, produced by

Click here for full transcript

Charlotte Burns: Hello and welcome to In Other Words. On today's episode, we're joined by Glenn Lowry, the director of MoMA in New York. Hello, Glenn. Glenn Lowry: Hello. Charlotte Burns: Thank you for being here. Glenn is the sixth director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York,…


Glenn Lowry

director of The Museum of Modern Art

Glenn Lowry became the sixth director of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1995. He continues the museum’s legacy of enriching public life through exhibitions, educational programs, publications and digital tools that challenge conventional ideas about Modern and Contemporary art and design, and initiatives that bring MoMA’s renowned collection and research to audiences worldwide.

Lowry has significantly developed the museum’s holdings in all mediums, adding entire collections of contemporary drawings, Fluxism and Conceptual art along with the archives of Frank Lloyd Wright. As a strong advocate of Contemporary art and artists who are shaping current art practice, he has overseen recent acquisitions of works by artists including: Matthew Barney; Louise Bourgeois; Marcel Broodthaers; Paul Chan; Lygia Clark; David Hammons; Rachel Harrison; Zoe Leonard; Steve McQueen; Bruce Nauman; Robert Rauschenberg; Gerhard Richter; Mira Schendel; Richard Serra; Sophie Taeuber-Arp; and Cy Twombly, among others.

Lowry’s major initiatives include the creation of a new curatorial department, Media and Performance Art; the establishment of the research program Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives in a Global Age Initiative (C-MAP); and the merger of The Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1).

Lowry guided the Museum’s 2004 expansion and accompanying capital campaign—raising $450m for the new building and more than $450m for the endowment and other related expenses. He is also leading MoMA’s current renovation and expansion project.

Lowry lectures and writes about various topics including the role of museums in society. He is also a member of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s board of trustees; a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a resident member of the American Philosophical Society. Lowry serves on the advisory council of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and is a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD).

In 2004, the French government honored Lowry with the title of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.

The live record

Behind the Scenes: Authority and Anxiety with MoMA director Glenn Lowry

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By Jason Katzenstein

For More on Glenn Lowry

The Museum of Modern Art in this Century by Glenn Lowry, published by MoMA (2009)

“How Contemporary Art Can Change the World” by Glenn Lowry in CNN Style (September 2017)

“How MoMA Chose Which Treasures to Send to Paris for Its Biggest Loan Show Ever” by Claudia Barbieri Childs in Artnet News (September 2017)

“MoMA Unveils Final Design for Revamped Galleries and Expansion Plans” by Alex Greenberger in ARTnews (June 2017)

MoMA’s building project site