Visual Arts

New York’s new Whitney opens to public

View from the top of the new Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoorst St., in Manhattan. Photographed on opening day, May 2, 2015.
View from the top of the new Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoorst St., in Manhattan. Photographed on opening day, May 2, 2015. Jane Wooldridge

From the outside, New York’s new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum in Lower Manhattan has a clunky feel, more like a factory than a showcase for some of the national artistic timeline of passion, strife, concepts and, yes, beauty.

Inside, it’s a different matter altogether, as the thousands discovered when they visited on May 2, opening day. Some 18,000 square feet under soaring industrial ceilings provide plenty of space for works and the visual breathing space that saves the brain from art overload.

The initial exhibition, America is Hard to See, through Sept. 27, showcases the Whitney’s vast collection in a rarely seen way, with realistic works from Alice Neel and Edward Hopper, abstraction from Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko, the poetic commentary of Jean-Michel Basquiat and expressive gesture of Willem de Kooning. And, this being America, plenty of political opinion.

But the art outside is as powerful — and not just the sculptures installed on the 13,000 square feet of terraces. The views — over the High Line, through the Meat Packing District, up to the Empire State Building, along the Hudson and across a sea of roof gardens to the tip of Manhattan — are a different kind of testament to America’s history, ingenuity and strength.

Follow Jane Wooldridge on Twitter and Instagram @janewooldridge, and on her travel blog, fivestarstounderthestars.com.

If you go

The Whitney Museum has moved from uptown to Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. It is now located at 99 Gansevoort St. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, free under 18. Closed on Tuesdays. whitney.org.

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