Why MoMA Switched Up This Event’s Layout for the First Time Ever

The museum’s annual Party in the Garden dinner took place in the actual garden this year.

By Michele Laufik June 6, 2018, 7:15 AM EDT

Inside the tented dining space, sections of round and rectangular dining tables were decorated in four distinct springtime shades—sunshine yellow, robin’s egg blue, rich teal, and cherry blossom pink.

Photo: Taylor McIntyre/BizBash

Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden 2018
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This year, the Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden actually took place, well, in the garden.

On May 31, more than 600 guests gathered in the art institution’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden for the dinner honoring philanthropist Agnes Gund and celebrating her contributions as a longtime trustee of the museum.

The evening event began with cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres in the aptly named Agnes Gund Garden Lobby followed by dinner in the transformed garden area—a first for the annual fund-raiser.

The layout of the party, which was designed and produced by the museum's in-house special events team led by assistant director of special events and programming Tania Abitbol, was flipped to allow for more seating capacity to accommodate the draw of the popular honoree (known to many as “Aggie") who has been involved with the museum for more than 50 years. Since 2002, Gund has served as president emerita and currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for MoMA P.S.1.

“Though there have always been challenges to tenting the Sculpture Garden [for cocktails and the after-party], this year required an even more elaborate tent build to create custom glass atriums for each tree bed that were uplit with incandescent lights to highlight the natural beauty of the space,” explained Maggie Lyko, director of special programming and events at the museum.

“Given that the garden is divided by two very large trees, seating and speeches also posed a challenge; so instead of building a stage with a podium, we decided to create two speaking areas with screens placed around the room. The screens were not only used for speeches, but also for a video that was produced about our honoree.”

In addition, the tented dining space featured sections of round and rectangular dining tables that were decorated in four distinct springtime shades—sunshine yellow, robin’s egg blue, rich teal, and cherry blossom pink, with linens, seat cushions, glassware, and floral arrangements to match. Greenery swags hung from the clear plastic tent’s trusses, and faux grass carpeting lined the space.

The guest list included art world giants such as Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, and Marina Abramovic, as well as Michael Bloomberg, Diane Sawyer, and Carolina Herrera.

Following dinner, about 1,300 guests attended the after-party, which featured a performance by St. Vincent and DJ sets from Sofi Tukker and SimiHaze.

Party in the Garden benefits MoMA’s annual fund and the maintenance of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. This year's event was made possible by support from Carolina Herrera; the museum declined to release the fund-raising total.

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