The Whitney Museum of American Art is probably the leading institution specializing in contemporary American art. As the first museum dedicated to exhibiting the work of living American artists, The Whitney has continued to showcase the breadth and evolution of American art since its establishment by sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930. Since 2015, the museum has been housed in a beautifully modern glass walled building right on the High Line.
The Whitney has a big permanent collection of over 24,000 works, which span the Ashcan School painting through the latest in contemporary art across all mediums, and includes a significant collection of art on identity and politics from the 80s and 90s. The museum also organizes a variety of exhibitions throughout the year, and at any given time have a handful on display. The longest running exhibition is the Biennial, an invitational that showcases work from the past two years. Their art also extends beyond the walls of the museum itself, with site-specific works in the neighborhood.
Size-wise, The Whitney is pretty on par with other major contemporary art museums. The certified green building design accounts for several floors of indoor and outdoor gallery space, a restaurant and bookshop on the lobby floor, a cafe on the top floor, as well as theaters and rooms for for events, educational programs, research and more. The striking geometry of the building fits in well among the mix of modern buildings and repurposed warehouses in the area, and offers amazing views of the Hudson and the city.
Go here for: appreciating and getting inspired by American art
Don’t miss: the outside spaces, which offer panoramic views of the city at several levels
Amount of time to spend: about 2-3 hours for the museum, but make it a half day itinerary with the High Line and Chelsea Market
When to come: weekdays ideally (weekends get crowded), afternoons so you can get some golden hour views
Getting here: the closest station is 14th Street and 8th (ACE, L), about an 8 minute walk
Other things to note:
Last visited: January 2021
Last updated: February 2021