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Visit Whitney Museum of American Art

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The Whitney Museum of American Art was borne out of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s advocacy on behalf of living American artists. At the beginning of the twentieth century, artists with new ideas found it nearly impossible to exhibit or sell their work in the United States. Recognizing the obstacles these artists faced, Mrs. Whitney began purchasing and showing their work, thereby becoming the leading patron of American art from 1907 until her death in 1942.

In 1914, Mrs. Whitney established the Whitney Studio in Greenwich Village, where she presented exhibitions by living American artists whose work had been disregarded by the traditional academies. By 1929 she had assembled a collection of more than 500 works, which she offered with an endowment to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. When the offer was refused, she set up her own museum, one with a new and radically different mandate: to focus exclusively on the art and artists of this country. The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded in 1930, and opened in 1931 on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village.

The Museum moved to an expanded site on West 54th Street in 1954. Having outgrown that building by 1963, the Museum acquired its Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, which opened in 1966. Programming at the Breuer building concluded on October 20, 2014. The Whitney's new building at 99 Gansevoort Street opened on May 1, 2015.

The Whitney was the first museum to take its exhibitions and programming beyond its own walls by establishing corporate-funded branch museums in other parts of New York City and the surrounding area. The Whitney branches were located in downtown Manhattan; at the Equitable Center at Seventh Avenue and 52nd Street; at Champion International Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut; and at the corporate headquarters of Altria (originally the Philip Morris Companies) on Park Avenue and 42nd Street.