With the Whitney Museum of American Art slated to break ground on its new Renzo Piano-designed building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District on May 24, the fate of its uptown flagship is newly sealed. The Brutalist icon, designed by Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966, will be used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for exhibitions and educational programming, the museums announced yesterday. An agreement approved by the boards of trustees of the Met and of the Whitney provides for an eight-year “collaboration” beginning in 2015, when the Whitney opens its downtown facility.
The Met plans to focus its programming in the Breuer building on modern and contemporary art. “This will be an initiative that involves curators across the museum, stressing historical connections between objects and looking at our holdings with a fresh eye and new perspective,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Met, in a statement issued yesterday by the museum. “This project does not mean that we are taking modern and contemporary art out of the Met’s main building, but it does open up the possibility of having space to exhibit these collections in the event that we decide to rebuild the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing where they are currently shown.” The announcement also notes that the Whitney and the Met will seek to collaborate on collections sharing, publications, and other educational activities. Meanwhile, like any savvy Manhattan property owner, the Whitney will keep some space in its former home for storage, as well as for site-specific works of art that will remain there on a permanent basis.