Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art, located on Manhattan’s upper east side, on Madison and 75th Street, is one of the nation’s most important contemporary art museum, and arguably, the most important collection of modern American art in the world. Dedicated to supporting living American artists through acquisitions and exhibits, the Whitney Museum continues to display cutting-edge art of all genres.


The Whitney Museum was founded in 1931 through the energy and generosity of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor herself. The museum’s initial collection consisted of 700 objects donated by Mrs. Whitney. Interestingly, she originally offered her collection to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. When she was turned down, she opened the Whitney. For the museum’s first twenty years, virtually all of the Whitney Museum’s acquisitions were the result of Mrs. Whitney’s generosity.

Originally housed in a Greenwich Village townhouse, the museum moved twice before settling into the mid-century modern structure designed in 1966 by Marcel Breuer, a member of the Bauhaus school. The 97-foot, 30,000-square foot building is noted for its gray granite exterior, inverted pyramid shape, and seemingly haphazard windows.

The Collection

The Whitney Museum of American Art focuses on American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum houses over 12,000 works in all genres by nearly 2000 artists. Highlights of the collection include a large holding of Alexander Calder’s work, the largest body of his art at any museum in the world. Other features include a large collection of Edward Hopper paintings, left to the museum by the artist’s estate, and substantial holdings of work by Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Keith Haring, and Willem de Kooning. The museum also features a regular schedule of temporary exhibits, usually on topics a bit more avante garde than are found at the Metropolitan or the MOMA. Recent shows have included American Art in the Age of Technology and The Warhol Look: Glamour Style Fashion.

The Whitney also maintains a 900-square foot free pedestrian gallery -- The Altria -- for temporary exhibits in midtown Manhattan, across from Grand Central Station, that hosts four exhibitions annually.

The Bicential Exhibition

In keeping with the museum’s mission to promote the work of living artists, the Whitney hosts an internationally-recognized invitational exhibition every two years, focusing on young American artists. It is the museum’s practice to purchase pieces from this exhibition for its collection. In this way, the Whitney Museum has acquired masterpieces by Jasper Johns, Philip Guston, and Arshille Gorky, among others.

Visiting the Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, except for Thanksgiving, December 25, and New Year’s Day. Admission discounts are offered to seniors and students, and admission is free to museum members and to children under 12. The museum’s four spacious floors of exhibition space flow easily and provide a light and airy feel to the museum.

Tours of the museum’s highlights are offered periodically throughout the day at no additional charge, and the Whitney boasts one of the city’s best museum restaurants -- "Sarabeth’s at the Whitney". The Whitney offers several program to help families best enjoy the museum, including special free "family cards" of the museum’s most important pieces, which list the important points about each work, and free sketchbooks for families to make their own interpretations.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is a celebration of this country’s unique artistic style. Bolder and more innovative than the other major New York museums, it’s a must-see for any true art lover.

Location: at 945 Madison Avenue, New York City, New York
Phone: 212-570-7719
E-mail: accessfeedback@whitney.org

Click here to visit Whitney Museum of American Art official website.