To visit some museums, you feel like you’ve got to take a timeout from the host city. And in an exciting place, or on a budding spring day, that can be hard to make yourself do.
At the new Whitney Museum of American Art, no timeout is necessary. Seeing it will push you into the mix in one of New York City’s trendiest areas. Plus you’ll get better views than the Empire State and a big hit of sunshine even while you’re surveying modern art. Here’s the story.
This past weekend, the Whitney officially moved to a splashy new Renzo Piano-designed building in lower Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. You’ll still see wholesalers’ signs along the crumbling brick streets there, but stylish restaurants and boutiques populate the rest. Most appealingly of all, the High Line—an elevated park created six years ago along former train tracks—now leads down to the Whitney.
As you approach, the eight-story museum looks nautical, with ship’s-ladder stairs between levels. They turn out to be brilliant, at least in good weather. Exhibits start on the top floor and angle you down the outdoor stairs through al fresco galleries, terraces, and an umbrella-shaded cafe. You’ll see up-close aerials of the High Line, plus sweeping views of the Hudson, One World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty. The New York Times calls the indoor-outdoor space “luminous.”
And the architecture sets off exciting art. The new Whitney’s inaugural show, “America Is Hard to See,” features works by big names like Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns. Great pieces by underrated 20th-century American artists have been studded into the exhibition as well. One favorite: “The Seasons,” a huge canvas blooming in semi-abstract green and pink by Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner.
Look for more in September’s Arts and Culture issue of Buffalo Magazine.