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The Alternative Museum opened in 1975 with an exhibition of 10 Japanese artists living in New York City. The Alternative Museum was founded in 1975 by artists for artists and the broader New York City community in the United States. The Alternative Museum primary purpose was to present works of art created by artists of conscience through exhibitions of contemporary art, world music concerts, performances and panel discussions. Art works that focused on social and political issues were given primary consideration for presentation.
The Alternative Museum founded and operated by artist Geno Rodriguez, Janice Rooney and Robert Browning, The Alternative Museum's primary functions were to provide a professional showcase for artists, leadership with an "artist" perspective within The Alternative Museum profession, and an atmosphere where ideas could be presented and challenged. Being non-profit, The Alternative Museum's choice of artistic presentation was not governed by commercial interests. At the same time, maintaining a small staff that worked closely with the participating artists minimized the bureaucracy that so often beset larger institutions and permitted the exploration of provocative projects.
The Alternative Museum became a compliment to the larger established museums and a role model for newer artist founded organizations like Art in General and later on Exit Art.