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Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art Review
With its bold collection of 20th- and 21st-century contemporary American art, the Whitney presents an eclectic mix drawn from more than 19,000 works in its permanent collection. The museum was originally a gallery in the studio of sculptor and collector Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, whose talent and taste were accompanied by the money of two wealthy families. In 1930, after the Met turned down Whitney's offer to donate her collection of 20th-century American art, she established an independent museum in Greenwich Village. The museum moved uptown in 1966, into this minimalist gray-granite building designed by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith. In 2015, the Whitney will head downtown to an exciting new space, designed by architect Renzo Piano, and situated between the High Line (New York's beloved elevated park) and the Hudson River. Exhibits will continue at the uptown location until late 2014. After the opening of the Whitney's new building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will present exhibitions and special programs at the Whitney's old location for at least eight years.
Start your visit on the fifth floor, where the galleries house rotating exhibitions of postwar and contemporary works from the permanent collection by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, and Roy Lichtenstein.
Although the collection on display constantly changes, notable pieces often on view include Hopper's Early Sunday Morning (1930), Bellows's Dempsey and Firpo (1924), Alexander Calder's beloved Circus, and several of Georgia O'Keeffe's dazzling flower paintings.
The lower floors feature exhibitions of contemporary artists such as Kara Walker and Gordon Matta-Clark as well as retrospective exhibitions that focus on movements and themes in American art.
The often-controversial Whitney Biennial, which showcases the most important developments in American art over the previous two years, takes place in the spring of even-numbered years. The 2014 Biennial will be presented by three guest curators and will be the last Biennial in the Whitney's Marcel Breuer building.
Catch it while you can: In 2015, the Whitney will leave the Upper East Side for its new location in the Meatpacking District. The new museum will feature more than 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art gallery space, as well as 13,000 square feet of outdoor space for installations, performances, and events, and a multiuse theater with views of the Hudson River.
After 6 pm on Friday the price of admission is pay-what-you-wish. On some of those nights the Whitney Live series presents new artists and reinterpretations of American classics. Be forewarned that this combination may result in long lines.
The Untitled restaurant in the basement (by Danny Meyer of the Union Square Café), serves updated diner classics; it's open for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday through Saturday, and for dinner Thursday through Saturday.
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