The first night that I tried to go to the new Whitney Museum in Manhattan ended up being my worst night in the city to this date. It wasn’t only because of my Whitney Museum attempt, but that’s where the night started going downhill. I’d had a long week, I was exhausted, and the only thing that I felt like doing was wandering around a museum alone with my headphones in. And so I trekked all the way into Manhattan from Brooklyn (after having trekked all the way home to Brooklyn from White Plains, which is north of Manhattan), got to the museum, and saw that the line was seven blocks long. Cool!
This past Sunday, I made a second attempt. It was one of those Bank of America free museum days — the first weekend of the month, you can go to one of the museums on B of A’s list and show your card to get in for free — so I woke up early, made myself some coffee, and set out before anyone else in the city had rolled out of bed.
There was still a line — as I knew there would be, New York being the city of perpetual lines — but it wasn’t bad. I had made a nice playlist to keep me upbeat. I got into the museum for free after waiting for about 15 minutes, and then I wandered around for about an hour with my headphones in, and then I left. It was the best.
The Whitney is a collection of American art, and I loved how truly American it all was: there were these stunning woodblock prints by a Japanese-American artist who I’ve now stalked extensively online (they were prints of California landscapes, so, you know, my heart was aching); there was this painting depicting a scene from Death of a Salesman (which is so Hollywood, right? Of course there has to be American art that’s all about Hollywood); there was a collection of work featuring jazz in the 1920s; there were a few of Edward Hopper’s famously sinister scenes (one of the painting’s descriptions described Hopper’s work as “sinister” and I love that and I’ve been calling everything “sinister” ever since); there were black and white photographs of New York City in the 1950s (many by women, to my delight); there was a large amount of Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollack & co) which was the art world’s reaction — in the US and abroad — to the devastation caused by WWII.
Also, major respect to the person who painted that subway painting a few photos up. Most accurate painting in life.
There are also great viewing decks on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors that offer pretty views of the Meatpacking District (I say “pretty” lightly — the Meatpacking District is fairly gritty, but I actually really like all of the industrial buildings and trucks driving around).
All in all it was a relaxing morning, and I’m glad I’ve finally discovered the trick to avoiding long[er] lines: just wake up before everyone else! This is also an important strategy for brunch. The more you know.
More museums/art nerding:
Snapshots of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Snapshots of MOMA