What to See at the Whitney
An Insider’s Guide
There is so much to do and see at the Whitney, but if you’re short on time, here are a few of our favorites.
Patrick Martinez’s Vibrant Neon Art
Always Free in the Lobby
If you are in the neighborhood, swing through our Lobby to see what’s new—admission to Floor 1 of the Museum is always free. The gallery space in the northeast corner hosts rotating special exhibitions. The artworks near the Museum’s entrance change from time to time, too. Currently, ten neon artworks by Patrick Martinez hover above the admission desks. Martinez uses neon, a medium associated with urban advertising and particularly common in his hometown of Los Angeles, to spell out injustices, warnings, and words of protest like “NO STRUGGLE, NO PROGRESS,” a quote by Frederick Douglass that the artist reignited in 2020.
Best Views in Town
Terraces on Floors 8, 7, 6, 5
While there is no right way to explore the Whitney, we recommend starting at the top and working your way down. This is because the views from the top floor terrace are, in our humble opinion, the best in town and not to be missed. On Floor 8, the east-facing terrace offers sweeping views of the city skyline and glimpses of the Hudson River too. Soak in these views with a coffee and pastry, quick snack, glass of wine, or lunch at the Studio Bar and Cafe, featuring both indoor and outdoor seating. Floors 7, 6, and 5 also have terraces with outdoor artworks—check them out as you make your way down.
A Monumental Painting by Lee Krasner
Measuring nearly 8 by 17 feet, The Seasons by Lee Krasner is enormous. Though her story is far too often overshadowed by that of her artist husband, Jackson Pollock, it is important to note that Krasner made this painting in 1957, a year after Pollock’s tragic death, when she took over their studio as her own. With new access to space, the scale of Krasner’s art grew extreme. She often painted vibrant organic shapes and forms and once said she wanted to create paintings that seemed “to breathe and be alive.” Enliven your day with a visit to this enveloping artwork on Floor 7.
Landmarks of Queer History
From our Doorway
The site where the Whitney now stands was once home to a thriving queer community. Starting in the 1950s, New Yorkers seeking sexual freedom and acceptance flocked to the Meatpacking District to relax on the piers, have sex, make art, organize, and party. Take our popular Queer History Walking Tour in person or via our mobile guide to learn more about the queer community and establishments that flourished in our neighborhood. We have a podcast episode about the history too.
The Legend of Jay DeFeo’s Rose
The Rose by Jay DeFeo is nearly 11 feet tall and weighs almost a ton. To create this massive artwork, DeFeo added a thick layer of paint to her canvas, let it dry, chiseled it away, and then did it all over again. For seven years, she repeated this process of application and removal—lore has it that all kinds of detritus from her life and home became incorporated into the paint. The work holds other mysteries too. For years it hung in a conference room at the San Francisco Art Institute, but a wall was constructed over The Rose when the building was renovated. Legend grew about the painting, but it remained sealed within the walls until 1995, when a Whitney curator had it excavated and restored. Now, in the light of day, it blooms on Floor 7.
Sunsets from our Stoop
Gansevoort Street and 10th Avenue
The Whitney’s stoop—the steps that wrap around the Museum’s southwest corner—is the spot to catch a New York City sunset. Rest on the stairs (even after Museum hours) to socialize and watch the final rays disappear over the Hudson, illuminating Day's End, a sculpture by David Hammons made just for this moment. Enjoy it.
Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning
Edward Hopper’s relationship with the Whitney began in 1920 when the then-unknown artist received his first-ever solo exhibition. Today, the Whitney is the largest repository of Hopper’s artwork in the world. A longtime New Yorker, Hopper painted the city around him; Early Sunday Morning, showing storefronts on Seventh Avenue, is one of his most iconic works. Keep an eye out for it on Floor 7 and for other Hoppers too—we always have a few on view.
A Few More Favorites
For Families: Calder’s Circus
Calder’s Circus inspires awe and wonder in children and adults alike. The miniature troupe includes animals, clowns, acrobats, and more than one hundred tiny props. In a quiet and enclosed gallery on Floor 7, you can examine the detailed vignette and watch a video of Calder performing the circus in Paris in the 1920s. We promise, you will be transfixed.
From Home: artport
artport is an online gallery of Internet art—art that exists entirely online. Peruse these digital artworks, many of them interactive, from the comfort of your home.