Whitney Museum Plans for New Meatpacking Location

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    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: People look at artwork from the Whitney 2010 Biennual on February 25, 2010 in New York, New York. The signature art event at the museum is simply called "2010". The Biennial, which is in its 75th year and runs through May 30, features 55 artists working in a variety of mediums that address both contemporary social and political issues. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The Whitney Museum of American Art has finalized plans to construct a new building in the Meatpacking District.  The building, set to be completed in 2015, will be larger and more accommodating than the Whitney's current site in the Upper East Side, proponents of the project said.

    The Whitney Museum's board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to build the second museum in the Meatpacking District.  “Downtown is a new city, a new nation," Whitney Chairman Emeritus Leonard A. Lauder told the Times.  "Why shouldn’t the Whitney be the museum of record there?”

    Although the museum had been looking to expand in its current location since the 1980s, the decision to build downtown effectively closes any such discussions. It will maintain its lease and some collections at its signature building, the Breuer on East  75th Street, but could perhaps end up sharing the space with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Discussions between the two museums are already underway.  

    Lauder had been expected to oppose the move; in 2008 he donated $131 million to the Whitney with the requirement that the museum keep the Breuer Building "for the forseeable future," according to the Times.

    “There is a new generation of people who have come on the board who are not rooted to the past...It would be unfair for someone like me who grew up near the Whitney to believe it should stay there," Lauder told the Times, adding, “there is no better time to build than now, with construction costs and interest rates at an all-time low.”

    A partnership between the Whitney and the Met would be timely for the latter museum, as it plans to renovate its modern art galleries and would greatly benefit from extra space to house its pieces, Director Thomas P. Campbell told the Times.  The Whitney would also benefit financially from such an arrangement as it embarks on its newly decided construction project.