The Whitney, the formal name of which is The Whitney Museum of American Art, has transformed itself, not just in terms of its new location, between New York City’s High Line and the Hudson River, but also because of its new home, designed by none other than Renzo Piano, an architect who recently designed the headquarters for the New York Times.
Rather than taking his usual minimal approach and giving the museum sleek lines and wrapped in glass, the renowned architect went in a different direction altogether. It has received a lukewarm reception as the exterior appears like a hodgepodge of partially completed ideas which never are fulfilled. Missing is what many expected to be a grand statement, like Hearst Tower, for example, which rises in dramatic and modern fashion from it’s historically protected, street level entrance.
Herein lies Piano’s genius, however. What he has achieved is only appreciated once you enter the building. Missing are narrow and jumbled corridors and galleries separating people from one another. Instead, huge spaces and generous amounts of natural light flood greet you. In other words, don’t stand outside and simply admire the great architecture. Come in and experience the great art. Brilliant.
No longer is The Whitney the adopted little step sister to the city’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world’s greatest art institutions, or The Guggenheim. Now, she sits at the dinner table on equal footing with the others.