Met Will Take Over Whitney Building

Metropolitan Museum of Art will take over space vacated by the Whitney Museum of Art when that museum moves into its new downtown digs, the institutions announced today.

The directors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art announced today that their boards of trustees have agreed in principle to a multiple-year collaboration projected to begin in 2015, when the Whitney opens its new museum facility on Gansevoort Street in downtown Manhattan. The Metropolitan Museum plans to present exhibitions and educational programming at the Whitney’s landmark building at 945 Madison Avenue, which was designed by Marcel Breuer, for a period of eight years, with the possibility of extending the agreement for a longer term. The two museums will seek to collaborate on collections sharing, publications, and other educational activities.

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, said: “We are thrilled at the prospect of this long-term collaboration with the Met. Throughout our planning for the Whitney’s new building downtown we have committed ourselves to finding a distinguished museum partner for the Breuer building in keeping with its iconic stature. The Met is ideal in so many ways. I am sure that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who initially offered her collection of American art to the Met before deciding to found the Whitney Museum, would be delighted that we are embarking on this unprecedented collaboration. We could not have found a better collaborator with respect to our beloved Breuer building while we re-establish our presence downtown, blocks from the Whitney’s original building in Greenwich Village. In the meantime, our vibrant program of exhibitions and events will continue in the Breuer building over the course of the next four years.”

On behalf of the Metropolitan Museum, Director Thomas P. Campbell said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to enter into this collaboration. With this new space, we can expand the story that the Met tells, exploring modern and contemporary art in a global context that reflects the breadth of our encyclopedic collections. This will be an initiative that involves curators across the Museum, stressing historical connections between objects and looking at our holdings with a fresh eye and new perspective. This project does not mean that we are taking modern and contemporary art out of the Met’s main building, but it does open up the possibility of having space to exhibit these collections in the event that we decide to rebuild the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing where they are currently shown. The Whitney will open its new location in 2015, so I look forward to developing our ideas around this project in the intervening years. It is an amazing opportunity, filled with possibilities for our art and our audience.”

“This collaboration between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, two of the world’s most esteemed cultural institutions, is great news for New York City,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Even after the Whitney opens its new downtown home, the historic Breuer building will continue to serve as an exceptional venue for exhibitions, lectures, and gallery tours, benefiting the millions of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world who enjoy world-class arts programming.”

During the term of the agreement, the Metropolitan Museum plans to provide programming in the Breuer building, including exhibitions, lectures, and gallery tours that present and interpret both contemporary and historical art in a global context. The Met would also provide amenities for visitors including food services and retail operations. The Whitney would retain use of some space in the building for art storage, as well as for site-specific works of art that will remain there on a permanent basis.

On May 24, the Whitney will break ground on a 200,000-square-foot building, designed by architect Renzo Piano. Located in the Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street, bordered by the Hudson River and the High Line, the building will provide the Whitney with essential new space for its collection, exhibitions, and education and performing arts programs in one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

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