Hey, everyone! I’m Jacob, a rising senior majoring in Comparative Literature and Latin. This summer, I’m up in New York City on a HCAH Summer Internship, working in the Publications department at the Whitney Museum of American Art. My internship mainly involves assisting the department’s staff editors with their work, but it also involves learning about the Whitney as an institution, as well as the NYC art and museum world more broadly. Last Monday, I made great progress on the latter of these tasks, as I gained a whole new level of insight into the Museum’s future. But let me back up for a moment.
One especially cool thing about being at the Whitney at this particular moment is that they’re currently in the long-term process of relocating from their current home on the Upper East Side to a new building just below Chelsea, which is scheduled to open in 2015. This move has attracted a lot of attention for a few reasons. For one thing, the move down to the Meatpacking District is one indication of the development of a significant cultural hub in an area that was formerly solely devoted to (surprise!) meatpacking. More specific to the Museum itself, the new building will offer large expansions of gallery and programming space, as well as other improvements. (For more on the new building, you can check out a cool video here.)
Of course, it has to be built first. Which brings me to what I did last Monday:
That’s the Whitney’s new building site last Monday, June 18, at 4:00 PM (photo grabbed from their new building webcam). Can’t you see me? Over to the right? No? OK, I’ll zoom in a bit.
Getting to tour the new building site was awesome because it gave new meaning to the hypothetical discussions of what the Museum’s future will look like. Hearing about the challenges and necessary considerations for the building project also gave me a newfound appreciation of the complex facilities museums require to operate, given their mechanical demands (think along the lines of complicated air handling systems that will keep the building at the right temperature and humidity 24/7 in order to protect the art). I got to see in a whole new way how the Museum’s arrival might impact the neighborhood, and conversely, how the neighborhood could impact the Museum. Plus, I also got to see the construction firsthand, which was also pretty cool:
As I said before, the building won’t open until 2015, so there’s going to be lots more time to keep thinking about and planning for the Museum’s future . It’s a conversation that will even – hard as this may be to believe – continue past the duration of my summer internship. But each day, this future becomes a bit more real, and someday the building will be completed. I have no idea where I’ll be then, but I can’t wait to see the finished product. For now, though, this is the closest I’m going to get: