Over the years, I’ve seen many modern art pieces really test my limits on “what is art”… There have been times where I said out loud what I was thinking in the gallery which wasn’t good when I was thinking “are you serious? And got a few nasty looks. But I guess that’s what art is supposed to do – create a feeling that causes a reaction. I’ve left more than one gallery/museum over the years when my reactions were just too much – I found a cookie to feed my feelings – feelings of “I could do that and it wouldn’t be called art!” or other thoughts that insult my artist friends who will then school me on “what art is”. A classic example was The Art Institute of Chicago – I loved it until I hit the modern art wing and the rocks in a circle. So when I happened upon the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, I wasn’t sure whether I would love it or hate it.
When Mom and I finished our Sunday stroll on the High Line in New York City, we found ourselves outside the Whitney Museum of American Art where we met my local friend. Since one of my employee work discounts includes free admission to the Whitney for myself and two guests we decided to explore the museum and take in the views of the city and the exhibits. Normal admission is $25 and some credit card customers have free or discounted admission opportunities (check out your credit card benefits in NYC). The tickets are timed to handle crowds and not get too overwhelming especially in the large elevators that slowly take you floor by floor.
The Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano
The building was designed by the famous Renzo Piano and the open expansive interior along with the tiered terraces outside, make the building itself a work of art. View the interactive design review from the NYTimes. We started at the top of the museum choosing to explore the outdoor patio/terrace spaces that we had spied from the High Line. It was a bright and sunny day in NYC and the views were quite impressive. It’s a bit of art in itself if you think about it – people on display on the terrace, using the stairs between levels and sitting out enjoying the sun.
Studio Cafe at the Whitney Museum
Before our gallery visit, we stopped for cake and coffee in the café. It’s a bright open space with a portion of the outdoor patio set aside for café guests. There is table service and we ordered coffee and sweet treats – Mom & I ordered the milk and cookie (hold the milk), my friend chose the scone with fresh crème. The massive triple chocolate cookie that arrived warm was one of the best cookies I’ve ever had (it’s in my top 5). Service was good and the only disappointment was that we were charged $8 for the cookie, I had ordered just the cookie but they sell only the cookie & milk so despite my lactose intolerance and no milk option for me, I had to pay the full price. That’s a bit cheeky in my opinion.
Whitney Museum Galleries
We left the café and started exploring the floors below, walking from one end to the outdoor patio end on each floor. It’s a small footprint so you won’t tire easily however, if you need a break, there is seating available on each floor prior to the outdoor patio entrance.
American Art at the Whitney Museum
I won’t lie, there were a few pieces of art that evoked a strong feeling of “seriously?” but this time I kept it to myself (ok, for the most part). However, mom and my friend, both ladies in their 70’s, somehow forgot their inside voices and were quite loud about their opinions in the gallery but they can get away with it. It made me laugh when both questioned the camping equipment and the gold sneakers as I was thinking the same (if you are an art aficionado, please explain the following to me in the comments below).
While there were a few artists and art pieces I recognized, most were new to me. With a collection of photos, paintings and freestanding pieces, the galleries were arranged to stimulate your senses with a variety of art types.
Whitney Museum Terraces & Garden Views
The outdoor spaces were a mix – one had a sculpture, one was a small garden and the other just spaces for you to stand and enjoy the views of Chelsea. The views on a clear sunny day were fantastic. There weren’t many seats available to sit (except for the cafe) outside so many wandered out and back into the very chilled museum (the air conditioning was quite cold the day of our visit).
Final Verdict – Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art is quite easy to visit and for me, at least, educational as I don’t know much about current American artists (too much time in Paris perhaps at the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay?). The price might be a bit steep for some but do check to see if your credit card offers discounts. The open galleries and expansive spaces made it feel less like a stuffy museum and more like a posh gallery that you want to explore. The outdoor terraces provide a nice break and incredible views of the city. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours before or after your High Line visit as well as a destination on its own. For more information about the museum and planning your visit to the Whitney, visit their website.
Have you visited the Whitney Museum in its new Chelsea location? Are you a fan?