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 spring 2015, the Whitney will head downtown again 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. 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. 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.
After 6 pm on Friday the price of admission is pay-what-you-wish. On some Fridays the Whitney Live series presents new artists and reinterpretations of American classics. Be forewarned that this combination may result in long lines.
Catch it while you can: The 2014 Whitney Biennial (an often-controversial showcase of the most important developments in American art over the previous two years) will be the last Biennial in the Whitney's Marcel Breuer building.
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.
Jul 5, 2011
I visited the Whitney on June 8, 2011 and was quite disappointed to find only ONE HOPPER PAINTING on exhibit. I verified this fact with museum staff. The Whitney, according to its own website, has over 3000 various works by Hopper and is well known for its Hopper collection. On the day of our visit, there was only one being shown. Overall, I found the quality of the works on display rather uninteresting. We walked through the museum in under an hour.
When I asked for a partial refund based on the lack of Hopper's work being shown, I was told that it was the policy of the museum not to give refunds based on a visitor's dissatisfaction with the artwork being shown. There are many other quality museums in New York City, I recommend that you do some research and go somewhere else. Skip the Whitney until they start showing some of Hopper's works. As it is now it's not worth your time or your money.
Feb 10, 2010
Although a well respected Museum, I find it disappointing compared to the many other options out there - especially MOMA. I would even recommend doing a gallery tour in Chelsea before heading to this museum. Do a little more Homework on what exhibits and pieces they have there before you visit.
Jul 18, 2005
You must love the avant garde to enjoy this Museum. We're not fans and found the building and exhibits to be very cold. One can understand why the other museums turned down this collection. There are only a few pieces of what the average person would describe as art here.