Whitney Museum of American Art Visitors Guide

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, United States. Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, 2
••• Nic Lehoux / Getty Images

First opened in 1931, the Whitney Museum of American Art is perhaps the most important museum dedicated to American art and artists. Its collection spans the 20th and 21st century and contemporary American art, with a particular emphasis on the work of living artists. More than 3,000 artists have contributed to its permanent collection of more than 21,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, videos, film, and photographs.

The signature Biennial exhibition showcases work created by invited artists, uniquely highlighting recent developments in American art.

What You Should Know About Visiting The Whitney

  • Visitors to the Whitney can enjoy free daily tours of the collection and exhibitions. No reservations required.
  • Untitled, a contemporary American restaurant, serves coffee and pastries in the morning and is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
  • Studio Cafe serves light fare starting at lunch time. It has floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of the Manhattan skyline. Outdoor seating is available in the summer.

More About the Whitney Museum of American Art

After the Metropolitan Museum of Art refused her endowment and collection, sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney established the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931 to house the collection of more than 500 works of art by American artists that she had acquired beginning in 1907.

She was considered the leading patron of American art until her death in 1942.

The Whitney is known for its works in Modernism and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, and Postminimalism. Artists featured at the museum include Alexander Calder, Mabel Dwight, Jasper Johns, Georgia O’Keeffe and David Wojnarowicz.

Past and Current Locations

Its first location was in Greenwich Village on West Eighth Street. The museum's expansion has made it necessary to relocate several times. In 1966, it moved to a building designed by Marcel Breuer on Madison Avenue. In 2015, the Whitney Museum moved again to a new home designed by Renzo Piano. It sits between the High Line and the Hudson River in the Meatpacking District. The building has 200,000 square feet and eight floors with several observation decks. 

Read more about the history of the Whitney Museum.