If you can time your visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art during its annual and biennial exhibitions, you’ll take in the tradition (since 1932) of showcasing recent contemporary art from the most important living and working artists of the time. Over the decades, the Whitney has purchased many works for its collection from young and relatively unknown artists to spotlight in these exhibitions and add to the museum’s collection of masterpieces by Stuart Davis, Jasper Johns, and more recently, Louise Bourgeois and Matthew Ritchie.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney originally opened her museum to the public on W. 8th Street with 700 pieces from her personal collection. Now housed in the Marcel Breuer-designed five-story building (with two underground levels), the collection has amassed more than 18,000 works of contemporary art by the likes of O’Keefe, Pollack, and Warhol.
Rich programming for all ages illuminates the exhibitions and collection, with a wide range of activities, including Family Fun Art Workshops ($10/family), Youth Insights programs (paid after-school opportunities for 10th–12th grade students), and a large range of free programs for seniors in collaboration with community senior centers. Whitney After Hours occurs every Friday evening 6–9 p.m. during pay-what-you-wish admission and includes live performances, artists appearances, and educational events for adults.
Whitney Museum of American Art Information
- Public Transportation: Very good (6 subway to 77th Street M1, M2, M3, M4 buses to 74th Street)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Wednesday–Thursday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 1–9 p.m. (6–9 p.m. pay what you wish admission), Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday
- Admission: Regular admission is $15, seniors (62+) and students with valid ID $10, NYC public-school students with valid student ID and children under 12 free. Group discounts are available (maximum 30). New York City public schools, CUNY and Columbia University groups are free, but a reservation is required
- Tours: Free docent-led Gallery Tours through the museum’s current exhibitions are offered each day. Tour schedules are available at the Information and Membership desk in the museum lobby and are posted in front of the elevators
- Membership: Individual membership is $75 annually. This fee includes unlimited free admission for one to the museum’s galleries and film programs, invitations for two to members-only preview days and morning viewing hours with breakfast, and an invitation for two to an opening cocktail reception of a major exhibition and the ability to bypass the admission lines. Artist, student, and senior memberships are $40 (includes all Individual-level benefits, with the exception of invitations to one opening cocktail reception).