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The Museum Maker

Posted on May 04, 2015

Renzo Piano Whitney MuseumMay 1 saw the opening of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. The Upper East Side mainstay has moved to New York City’s Meatpacking District, rising nine asymmetrical stories overlooking the Hudson River. This is exciting news for art fans, as it significantly expands the area for the institution’s modern and contemporary art. Its 18,000-square-foot, top-floor space for special exhibitions is now the largest column-free gallery in New York City.

But as appealing as the new arts offerings inside the downtown Whitney may be the structure itself. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, this is only the latest in his long line of striking museums, from the exoskeletoned Pompidou Centre in Paris to the grand Harvard Art Museum. Piano’s decades of museum design have made him arguably the leading expert in the world on creating art that houses art—though he hesitates to put his work in the same category as the works it contains.

“It’s not a piece of art as much as a shelter for art, in the service of art,” Piano says. While they must be aesthetically pleasing, museums’ greater purpose is to engender “a sense of belonging, participation, discovery.”

To that end, Piano has designed the Whitney’s ground floor, a few steps from the busy southern entrance of High Line park, as a vast public space. The spectacular cantilevered entrance invites passersby into an outdoor plaza, restaurant, and 6,000-square-foot lobby gallery—free to all.

Read the full story at Rhapsody.

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