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The Whitney Moves to the Meatpacking District

The Whitney Museum of American Art finally reopened today. The New York institution’s much heralded move from the stately Upper East Side to the hip meatpacking district was highly anticipated.

Among those celebrating the reopening, was first Lady Michelle Obama, who says she “fell in love” with the museum. Joe Sykes reports on the opening of a building that’s already changing New York’s landscape.


It’s 15 years since Sex and the City’s Samantha moved out of the her rent controlled apartment on the Upper East side and down to the trendy meatpacking district.

Sex and the city: Where whores were whores, men were women and rents were much much higher.(00.11)

Since then places like the High Line and the Standard Hotel have made the district New York’s hottest property.

And today the Whitney museum is following Samantha down to the meatpacking

Scott Christopher is the first in line

Scott: I got down here very early this morning. It’s very important to go in and bless this great great museum.

Scott: I brought my sketchbook, I brought my pastels. I’m actually going in creating(00.04)

Creating from a deep well of emotion which you can hear when he talks

Scott: So today I don’t know, in the world of art, I don’t, it’s just a v beautiful thing…yah…it’s big(00.21)

Everything about the new Whitney is big. The building’s 9 stories high with over fifty thousand feet of interior exhibition space. It looks like a giant grey glass sail looming over the high line and the old low factories that were once the heart of New York’s meat industry.

But it’s really on the inside that the building comes alive. Last week I toured myself round the galleries

Up Lobby Ambi

I started in the lobby and went up in the industrial sized elevators, up to the 8th floor.

Narration: And immediately you notice the light and the space. You go through the gallery, through the revolving doors and you’re out in the open and suddenly you’re in the middle of New York.

Down on the ground floor Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney says the museum is

Weinberg: Woven into the fabric of the city. The separation of indoors and outdoors is basically gone.(00.06)

Gone because of that glass and the balconies that adorn every floor. And he says the Whitney fits down here

Weinberg: The Upper East Side’s lovely but it’s a much more fixed neighbourhood. THere’s a sense here of possibility.

And its that possibility that’s got Scott Christopher hopping on his toes waiting for the clock to tick round to ten thirty and the museum’s opening.

Suddenly he’s off. In he goes

Christopher: WE made that first footstep. This is like super, this is bigtime, this is first step on the moon for me, Yay, it’s all happening. Number 1. WE all love art. YAYAYAYAYAy(00.24)

Christopher runs up the stairs and he’s gone. If you want a taste of the excitement, the museum is free all day Saturday, although beware the long lines.

Joe Sykes, Columbia radio news.


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