Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney, as locals call it, is one of the more popular museums in the entire city, and its convenient location within the cluster of other Upper East Side attractions makes it very easy to visit. Founded in 1931 from the 700-piece collection of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the collection continues to increase today, concentrating on 20th Century art by American artists.
What you’ll see inside
The permanent collection now consists of over 18,000 pieces including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, and even video. There’s a major emphasis on “modern art” although that isn’t officially their policy. Some of the notable pieces in the collection are from Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns. The Andy Warhol Film Project is an ongoing exhibition of some of the artist’s more notable works of film.
In addition to the large and worthwhile permanent collection, the Whitney has a revolving group of temporary exhibits that are often very popular and keep locals coming back. There are usually between 3 and 5 of these exhibits going at any given time, and you can easily find out the schedule either in Time Out New York or on this page on their official site. You can also see their upcoming collections on this page.
Mondays & Tuesdays – Closed
Wednesday – Thursday 11am – 6pm
Friday 1–9pm (6–9pm “pay-what-you-wish” admission)
Saturday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Adults – $15
Senior citizens (62 and over) – $10
Students with valid ID – $10
“Almost Free” Friday nights
Every Friday evening from 6 to 9pm the Whitney has their famous “pay-what-you-wish” admission, which is similar to the “donation” system used at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other New York Museums. You can literally pay as little as $1 and march in with your head held high, although they’d prefer you pay at least a bit more. The major downside to these Friday nights is that they are extremely popular with local cheapskates as well as frugal visitors, so by 5pm a long line is already forming and by 6pm it can be nearly out of hand. If you go in around 7pm you can still have time to see most of what you want to see, but prepare for maximum crowds the whole evening. If you are really looking forward to seeing this impressive collection you might think twice about trying to save a few dollars going on this crowded night.
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 570-3600
The 6 subway train stops at 77th Street and Lexington Avenue, and from there you are 4 short blocks from the Whitney. The museum is only a few blocks from the Met and from the Guggenheim, so it’s easy to take in on a museum tour of the neighborhood. It’s also a pleasant walk of about a mile from the busy southeast corner of Central Park at 59th Street and 5th Avenue, so it’s within reach of many hotels.
Map of the Whitney Museum