Confession: I’m not much of a museum person. In my first year living in NYC, I went to exactly one museum – the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and only because it was rainy, and I had a friend in town. I enjoy visiting museums when I travel (especially in Cleveland!) but here in New York, it’s so easy to say, “Well, the museums will always be there.” So I do other things instead, saving museums for literal rainy days, and for the most part I’m content with that.
But when the Whitney Museum of American Art opened in its new location last month, it started springing up all over my Instagram feed. Never mind the art, the space itself looked gorgeous, and it’s in one of my favorite parts of the city – the Meatpacking District on the west side of Manhattan. So while I was on staycation, I added the Whitney to my list of must-dos and popped over after my venture to One World Observatory.
You guys, I am SO GLAD I went! While the Met is iconic, I found the collection to be overwhelming and, frankly, a little boring. (I know, I know). But the magical thing about American art is that, for the most part, I already know and understand the context. I am intimately familiar with American history – even more so than European history, which I studied in college. The collection touches on really interesting parts of our history – the dust bowl, the Vietnam and Korean wars, the AIDS crisis – right up through present day.
Of course, I accidentally walked through the museum backwards and saw it all in reverse order, from present day back through the ’20s. Still amazing, but word to the wise, you’re “supposed” to take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down. I just couldn’t be bothered with the crowds at the elevators and started at the bottom, not knowing it was chronological!
Most of my favorite pieces, you’ll gather, are the more current ones. It’s just easier to relate to things created during your lifetime, I think. Plus I still had all my energy and momentum!
Art I can truly relate to
The above is a re-creation of an actual Daily News cover from 1998. If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will.
The Whitney also features a gorgeous outdoor space with a multi-level patio, chairs to lounge in, and views on views on views. I ended up curling up with my book for a while (of course, the next day I realized I was sick, which explains my lull!)
Overall, I LOVED the Whitney, and if I had the discretionary money lying around I’d totally consider buying a membership, too – if only for access to that patio! I had such a great afternoon there and can’t wait to go back as they add exhibits and rotate the collection.
What’s your favorite museum in NYC? I need to add some to my to-do list!