The Whitney Museum of American Art is home to some of New York’s most vibrant contemporary art. With a recent gift of $131 million, Leonard A. Lauder has become the museum’s largest benefactor ever. There’s one condition: that the Madison Ave. building remain a home to the museum. Now, there are question of whether and where the Whitney will build a second home.
A proposed site is at the entrance to the new High Line park at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort streets. Part of the reason for expansion is because the current building designed by Marcel Breuer and opened in 1966 is simply too small to accomodate the Whitney’s ever increasing spate of works.
Now there is a rift between the 45 members of the Whitney Board, of which some are New York’s wealthiest art patrons. Questions loom about whether the non-profit institution can afford running two museum sites. Adam Weinberg, the museum’s director, says that a second building is necessary for the institution to compete in New York’s contemporary museum scene.
In the meanwhile, the disputes about where and whether to build are giving way to questions of how to build. Large, open spaces are viewed as necessary for the installation of some of today’s important pieces. Construction is not expected until at least 2014.