MoMA’s Party in the Garden Blooms With Classic English Design

The Museum of Modern Art's 2014 benefit featured a look reminiscent of grand British greenery with traditional boxwood hedges, sculptured topiaries, and a faux lawn.

By Michele Laufik May 16, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

Faux grass lined the floor of the dining space for the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Party in the Garden.

Photo: Carolyn Curtis for BizBash

The Museum of Modern Art’s annual Party in the Garden, held on May 13, transported guests to the English countryside this year—perhaps as a nod to the British honorees, actor Daniel Craig and Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen. Craig and McQueen, along with Swiss heiress and museum trustee Maja Oeri, were being celebrated for their commitment to culture and the arts.

Before heading into the seated dinner, the 650 guests, including Vera Wang, Francisco Costa, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and David Rockefeller, mingled in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden for the tented cocktail reception. The event’s theme was English garden—a departure from the neon Lucite tables and tropical decor of 2013. This year, the benefit was planned without the help of an underwriter, so the museum opted for a design that was elegant, but not over the top, said Tania Abitbol, assistant director of special programming and events for the museum. Although the 2014 concept didn't require custom tables, rigging, or special lighting, the look was still as impressive.

Abitbol transformed the lobby and atrium using boxwood hedging, large topiaries, garden-style folding chairs, and crisp, white linens. Faux grass lined the floor of the entire lobby, completing the lush lawn setting. But it proved to be much more difficult to install than Astroturf, sisal, or regular carpet, Abitbol said.

Attendees dined on lobster salad, heirloom tomatoes and burrata, and herbed lamb with mustard sauce from Glorious Food. After dinner, the guests joined an after-party crowd of 1,400 in the garden for a performance by Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li.

Individual dinner tickets began at $2,500, with tables ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, and after-party tickets started at $200. Proceeds from the event benefit the Annual Fund of the Museum of Modern Art and the maintenance of the Sculpture Garden.

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