Drafts of an exhibition layout

Drawings from the proposed 1940 MoMA exhibit, Exhibition X. Photo © Esopus Foundation Ltd

Modern Artifacts Three: Tentative and Confidential
Esopus 9 (Fall 2007)

"We started doing this series with MoMA in issue seven, 'Modern Artifacts.' This is the third one in the series. Michelle Elligott, who’s the archivist at MoMA, always comes up with these amazing ideas for stuff to feature. They’re meant to involve things that had never been seen, or only rarely seen, certainly not by the public but maybe by scholars who visit the archives. This was an exhibition that the museum was going to do in 1940. The whole idea was to wrest America out of its isolationist stance and to get them basically emotionally prepared to enter into war with Germany and Japan. They were going to build a new pavilion, literally a new building where the garden was, and it was going to be all of these installations dealing with democracy. [This] drawing is sort of a recreation of a Nazi hall, but it was going to be this incredibly dynamic, fascinating, huge almost an amusement park related to the threat of fascism and how America had to respond to it. And it never happened.

[There was] all of this back and forth between trustees and the curators, the government how they could make this happen, how it was going to actually work, how they were going to raise money for it. It never happened, and no one ever knew about it. It was called “Exhibition X” by museum people at the time because no one really wanted to reveal that it was going to happen or not happen."