Over forty years after her unofficial debut at MoMA, Yoko Ono has returned to the museum. In 1971, Ono hosted a one woman show that came with an accompanying catalogue entitled "The Museum of Modern FArt". When visitors arrived a sign outside the entrance announced that she had released flies on the Museum grounds, "and the public was invited to track them as they dispersed across the city." The flies were also sprayed with her perfume, to carry her scent... but the NY Times reports now that those flies never existed... in a traditional sense. Needless to say, MoMA did not approve this show.

Now, however, they will present their first exhibition dedicated exclusively to her work, a retrospective of Ono's output from 1960-71. And thankfully, this time, MoMA's curators haven't Bjork'd themselves.

The show opens on May 17th (through September 7th), and today the museum held a press preview, where Ono herself was on hand.

From 1960-71 Ono split her time between Tokyo, London, and New York, creating art that hinged upon universal issues of self-identity, finite life spans, and the hard work of truly connecting with another person. These ideas play out across sparse and near-colorless works: in Cut Piece a young Ono appears on black and white 16mm film, allowing others to approach her with scissors, cut off some of her fine clothing, and take it with them back to their seat—a material portion of herself, relinquished.

In another gallery room sit the remnants of Morning Piece, a project which saw Ono attaching future dates to small bits of clear plastic and selling them as a kind of intangible merchandise, separate slices of a day yet to come. Ono encouraged her customers to wait until the attached date and then look up through the plastic toward the sky.

Earth's sky and its expansive, shifting permanence is thematically and literally at the heart of Ono's MoMA show. Walking through rooms lined with pages of her artists' instruction book Grapefruit, viewers will eventually reach To See The Sky, an entirely new piece comprised of a steel spiral staircase that leads toward a glass skylight. Surrounded by other sky-themed pieces—an old TV that plays grainy cloud footage forever and a set of glass keys meant to "unlock" the heavens above— the staircase is a simple and effective piece, one that breaks the "do not touch" boundary between exhibit and patron. Around it, speakers line the room's walls playing bird songs and, yes, the recorded sound of snow falling on the ground. A collection of oddities all in the name of one massive idea, the "Sky Room" is where Ono's exhibit feels most realized and alive.

In other galleries, the artist's work feels somewhat lifeless. Ono's collected works are a minimalist-lover's dream, made up of clean dark lines and simple materials that most often convey ideas, rather than emotion. Even Bag Piece, a performance that features two living people moving beneath a giant black sheet (a meditation on shyness) feels arid and devoid of breath. The exhibit's palette of white, off-white, ivory, parchment, pearl, opal, and black is sure to satisfy design school aesthetes, but more casual art fans will find themselves aching for color. For all their strong personal ideas most of Ono's works are textbook (con)strained modernism.

But Ono herself overflows with kindly emotion. "Life itself was like an ordeal, really," the 82-year-old said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, recalling her myriad works, the best of which will now inhabit MoMA's sixth floor for the next four months. Arid but smart, the exhibit is a success worth seeing, especially when the sky is filled with light.