IT WAS my first time to see Whitney and I fell in love with her. She got me at “Yayoi Kusama” even though I caught the artist on the very tail end of her exhibition—the egress. Oh well, I will probably catch this Japanese artist’s Fireflies on the Water in some other museums somewhere around the globe.

Museums are therapeutic for me. I love being embraced by art in its many forms and in this art house in New York’s Madison Avenue holds more than 19,000 pieces of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films, videos and new media by more than 2,900 artists in its permanent collection focused on the 20th and 21st-century American art, I got my fair share of hugs on my very first visit.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is a realization of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor and an artist herself, advocacy of providing a space where living American artists can exhibit their works. This is what the museum focuses on—living artists and their works.

In the past, Mrs. Whitney witnessed the obstacles the artists faced—no place to exhibit their new ideas or sell their work in the US. It was Mrs. Whitney who started purchasing their works and eventually became leading patroness of American art during her lifetime. She then established the Whitney Studio in Greenwich Village in 1914 and exhibited the works of artists whose works was disregarded by traditional academies.

In 1930, she set up the Whitney Museum of American Art after her she offered an art collection with an endowment to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and got rejected. The need for expansion moved the museum from Greenwich Village to West 54th Street to its current address.

As it was in the past, so is the present. For today’s younger artists who dreams of etching their own names in the history of American art, the Whitney’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions have been the venue to showcase their works.

And to accommodate the growing community of artists, art collection and programs of the museum, a bigger home is now on construction on Downtown Manhattan, between the High Line and the Hudson River. It will open in 2015. More American art to hug us all!


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