Must-See Meatpacking District
by Christina Parrella, 09/01/2014 [Updated 04/29/2015]
Photo: Timothy Schenck
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Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600
After nearly 50 years on the Upper East Side, the Whitney Museum opened its new location in the Meatpacking District to no small amount of fanfare. Happily, that fanfare is much deserved. The new building—220,000 square feet spread over nine floors—was designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano and is an attraction in its own right. Galleries are flooded with natural light—one of the biggest differences between the museum's old and new homes—and have the sort of bone-colored, pine-plank hardwood floors that are the envy of everyone who's ever dreamed of a summer home. Outdoor spaces, including various decks and an enormous public plaza, offer panoramic views of both the Hudson River and Manhattan. It's clear that the museum is making a point about New York City being a kind of artwork in itself.
As for the artwork inside, the Whitney's unparalleled collection of pieces by American artists continues to be as beautiful, challenging, playful and provocative as ever. The inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See (up through September), is a kind of greatest-hits show, displaying works from 1900 to the present in a massive but well-edited survey of the country's most revered artists. The list is as long as it is impressive: Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, Kara Walker, Eva Hesse—and 395 more. Upcoming exhibitions include a Frank Stella retrospective, an installation by Citizenfour director Laura Poitras and a major presentation of works by David Wojnarowicz. Film screenings, performances, talks and other public programming round out the museum's offerings.