For the last two years we've doing a lot of looking and watching and waiting with great excitement for the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum of American Art to open in The Standard, High Line's backyard. Now it's here, and you can actually see into the galleries from our Hudson-facing guest rooms.
The Meatpacking district has come a long way since the club kids held their noses as they slipped on slimy sidewalks; since the elevated trains delivered livestock to the meatpackers; since the shipbuilders hammered away. The opening of the new Whitney marks an important moment, both as the anchor to the High Line and as an iconic cultural landmark returning to its downtown roots.
We had the privilege of sitting down with Chief Curator Donna De Salvo to discuss the institution's new home, its debut show, “America Is Hard to See”, and the simple pleasure of looking.
STANDARD CULTURE: What do you think of your new neighborhood?
DONNA DE SALVO: Well, it isn’t exactly new to me. I’ve lived downtown forever, but what is so incredible about the Meatpacking District is the sense of history that’s here, even with all the development you still have this incredible sense of a New York that once was. This land was once owned by the Gansevoort family, which was related to Herman Melville. The site we’re on now was once a pumping station for the fire department. Then it became Premier Veal. And then the Whitney.
It’s true, even amongst all the new, some of the grit remains intact.
New York is like that. It sort of accumulates. You see the layers.