In a radical departure from its former modernist home on the Upper East Side, the Whitney Museum of American Art moved into a glassy Meatpacking District building in 2015. The 220,000-square-foot, Renzo Piano-designed building has room to showcase more art from the Whitney’s collection than ever before, with room to spare for food, shopping and Hudson River views. Here’s how to spend a day at the Whitney.
With more than 20,000 works by more than 3,000 artists, the Whitney Museum packs a punch. Before diving in, head to Studio Cafe on the 8th floor for small bites and views over both the High Line and the Hudson River. James Beard award-winning chef Michael Anthony, of Gramercy Tavern fame, prepares open-faced toast sandwiches that change with the season ($14 to $16).
Drawn entirely from the museum’s collection, the Human Interest exhibition features more than 200 works that span from the early 20th century until today. The “New York Portrait” section in particular is of interest, showcasing the city as both a leaping pad for self-invention and a backdrop that “shapes the dreams and fears” of locals and visitors. Notable works include a set of 1975 gelatin silver prints of legendary singer and songwriter Patti Smith taken by Robert Mapplethorpe and 1964’s Nine Jackies by the Andy Warhol. On view until February 2017.
On view until September 25, Virginia Overton’s installation makes use of the Whitney’s windy rooftop. Breezes off the Hudson River cool down museum goers, while powering two windmills that pump air into ponds teeming with flowers and other plantings. Two accompanying indoor galleries showcase a series of work by Overton, reinforcing the building’s close relationship with the outdoors.
After an hour or two of art, head to the couches on the fifth floor for a much needed respite. They face west, providing unbeatable views over the Hudson River just across the street.
Don’t leave without taking some of your favorite art home with you. From an Alexander Calder children’s book ($25) to a Robert Mapplethorpe Orchid Tray ($125) to a Jeff Koons Balloon Dog Plate ($9,000) there is something for every kind of shopper. The wide selection of books also make for great keepsakes or gifts, from Keith Haring’s Pop Art Baby! ($13) to the kitchy Artists and Their Cats ($17).
Restaurateur Danny Meyer’s fine dining restaurant occupies the bright, ground floor space beneath the museum’s cantilevered entrance. Chef Michael Anthony leads the kitchen alongside chef de cuisine Suzanne Cupps, serving vegetable-heavy, seasonal dishes. This summer, stop by the restaurant if only for the braised lamb with summer squash and saffron pasta ($30).