After seven years in the making, the new Whitney Museum made the leap downtown to the Meatpacking District, leaving its home of nearly 50 years on the Upper East Side. Designed by critically acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano, the new Whitney is located at the southern end of the High Line, a span of elevated rail that’s been a magnet for the recently divorced since it was renovated as a park.
Attending the dedication ceremony on Thursday was First Lady Michelle Obama. Commenting on the museum’s inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See, the first lady remarked, “That title isn’t just a statement of fact, it’s a challenge that the Whitney has embraced with open arms—the challenge of truly seeing America in all of its glory and complexity.”
Ms. Obama then gripped Whitney-heiress Flora Miller Biddle and proclaimed the museum elevator to be “the most beautiful freight elevator I’ve ever ridden on.” Immediately following the applause, Ms. Biddle hailed her driver and left the ceremony, seemingly startled.
By late Saturday morning the line of museum enthusiasts itching to get their annual dose of fine art stretched three blocks. The public reception for the $422 million, nine-story mammoth also included a Macy’s-sponsored block party, including ambiguous performance workshops, a daycare for culturally keen children, and a karaoke booth for shameless ’90s favorites.
All seemed to be going peacefully. The seniors got jiggy and watched a family friendly burlesque show with songs like “I go ‘Ooh’ for Ovaltine” and “Mamma want yer Moth Balls.” Due to a lack of seating, the elderly audience dispersed after the first set.
But that tranquility was soon spoiled when a French tourist in a purple sundress approached the museum director to ask, “Pardon monsieur, is this the new Whitney museum or the new state fair?” Within moments she found herself removed by the fairground’s security as Adam Weinberg waved goodbye to the young woman and lipped au revoir with a smile.
“This is art!” Mr. Weinberg assured, trying to lighten the situation and bring attention away from the scuffle. “Nothing to see over here . . . oh look everybody,” he pointed, “a karaoke machine.”
An exasperated man waiting in queue reported to Sunday Edition that he overheard Mr. Weinberg whisper to his assistant “get me away from these geese” as he was guided from the increasingly irritated crowd. “Are you going to open that door for me or are you looking for a new job,” he snapped at the same assistant.
Several hours later, to the surprise and wild relief of the restless crowd, the young Frenchwoman escaped fairground’s detainment and returned to fan the flames of discontent.
Unified in feet pain, the ignited masses chanted “2-4-6-8-Fuck-This-Museum-Wait” and “Hell-No-We-Want-To-Go” as location security and the NYPD scrambled to control the situation.
“Let me see you wait in this line, motherfucker!” said Bruce of New Haven, 34, who only gave his first name. “Four goddamn hours I’ve standing here and that goggle-eyed director tells me to sing karaoke?”
The situation irrupted into mayhem and Roberta Smith of The New York Times declared an “Art World State of Emergency.”
In response to the public upset, officials at the Whitney Museum had the following statement:
“We’ve expanded the Whitney Members-Only Neighborhood Discount Program to include both the Upper East Side and the Meatpacking District, with tons of new top-notch NY restaurants and stores!”
We’ll have more on this story in next week’s Sunday Edition.