New York City – Free Travel 9: Whitney Museum of American Art

It took a long time for the art world to acknowledge American Art. The Whitney Museum in New York City rejoices it, showcases it, and seeks to support new and upcoming American artists. It is a special place in a city which seems to offer more foreign than home-grown art.

You will find The Whitney Museum of American Art at Madison and 75th Street. It has pay what you wish admission on Fridays, 6 p.m.-9 p.m, so it can be FREE or almost so, then. Free docent-led Gallery Tours through the Museum’s current exhibitions are also offered daily. Tour schedules are at the Information desk in the Lobby. Tours meet in the galleries. No reservations are needed.

The Whitney is the leading advocate of 20th and 21st century American art. It was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a well-regarded sculptress, in 1931. The permanent collection has more than 18,000 works, in a wide variety of media.

The Whitney is the preeminent collection of American art, and it includes major works and materials from: Edward Hopper, the largest public collection of Alexander Calder, significant works by Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Kiki Smith and Andy Warhol, among others.

This museum places a particular emphasis on exhibiting the work of living artists for its collection. It has long been a venue for younger and less well-known artists whose work is showcased there.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum’s namesake and founder, was a serious art collector. By 1929, she had amassed nearly 700 works of contemporary American art which she offered to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the Met turned down her gift.

So, Mrs. Whitney used her collection to found the “Whitney Museum of American Art” in 1931, (and also as an answer to the then newly founded Museum of Modern Art’s collection of mostly European modernism and its neglect of American Art).

The Museum’s collections start at 1900 and continue onward to the present. The 5th floor galleries contain art from the permanent collection, 1900 to 1949; the second floor exhibits art from 1950 to now. Approximately only 1% of the works of art owned by the Whitney are on view at any given time.

The Whitney’s signature show, the Biennial, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in America today.

The American Voices audio tour guides you through the museum helping you see the 27 most important pieces, and the museum is wheelchair accessible to all galleries, restrooms.

Wheelchairs are also available free, in the Lobby.

And the temporary restaurant (which offers a great menu, from one of the areas best known caterers). Menu: Restaurant at The Whitney Museum

Kids and Families Program: uses the main collection and special exhibitions as the foundation for learning, a variety of interactive gallery tours and hands-on activities is designed to encourage children and adults to: observe, discuss, explore art together while developing a sense of life-long experimentation, critical thinking, and creative expression.

The museum is also less crowded on weekend mornings. The Artport is an online virtual changing exhibition, and it is a good introduction to the collection. Artport

To arrive, take:
Subway: 6 to 77th St. (walk 2 blocks west to Madison Ave.), Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4 to 74th Street

Phone: 212 570-3600 No photography. No strollers in special exhibitions.

The Museum is open:
Wed – Thurs: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Fri: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm Friday: 1–9 pm (6–9 pm pay-what-you-wish admission)
Sat – Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday and Tuesday – closed.

New York City Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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