The New Whitney Museum Welcomes Kids And Families With Expanded Programming

Photo by Nick Lehoux

The Whitney Museum will re-open tomorrow in its new, Renzo Piano-designed building situated between the High Line and the Hudson River in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. And along with doubling the square footage of exhibition space and new dedicated educational programming space, the Whitney will offer more family programming than ever before.

“We really want to make the museum a family-friendly place; a place that welcomes parents and children,” says Billie Rae Vinson, Coordinator of Family Programs at the Whitney.

The new Whitney will offer programs for families and children on both Saturday and Sunday, three weekends per month, changing from the previous once-per-week family program schedule. These family programs will include kid-friendly interactive tours, Open Studio art-making workshops, Stroller Tours, and artist-led programs including Artist’s Choice Workshops.

Artist involvement in the family workshops will be a highlight at the new museum. Artist-led programs this summer will feature two series of programs that focus on performance art and drawing. The Artist’s Choice Workshops, for ages 8-12, will continue bringing contemporary artists and families together to share ideas and create works inspired by the museum’s galleries.

Photo by Nick Lehoux

And, in addition to the big block party this Saturday, kids and families can look forward to their own special opening party.  On May 16, from 2-4pm, the museum will host the Whitney Kids Opening, which will feature live performances, live sketching activities with models, tours, and other fun activities that will dazzle young art enthusiasts.

For the first exhibition, “America Is Hard To See,” both audio and print guides will be available for kids, and include different activities, such as drawing activities and and discussion prompts specifically for children.

The Whitney will also continue previous initiatives aimed at fostering families’ love for art. Stroller Tours, which encourage new parents to bring their newborns as they learn from Whitney Teaching Fellows, will continue as great opportunities to expose children to art from young age.

Beyond the museum’s collections and scheduled programming, the building itself is a piece of art that families will enjoy. According to Vinson, some of the can’t-miss spaces for families and children include the new Laurie M. Tisch Education Center on the third floor, which includes the new Hearst Artspace the Susan and John Hess Family Theater, which will be used performances and educational programming; the outdoor galleries, providing scenic views of the city; and the “Six in Four” elevators, designed by the late Richard Artschwager, which also serve as immersive installations.

“Art is everywhere in the museum,” Vinson says. “All of the different spaces are made for art and artists.”

The new Whitney is also dedicated to not just coexisting, but really becoming a community resource in its  new neighborhood. Through WECAN, the Whitney Education Community Advisory Network, a group of community partners—including residents, teachers, and parents from the neighborhood—have been part of an ongoing dialogue about the building, the programming, and collaborations with neighborhood organizations such as schools, teens, community groups, and senior centers

“We really want the Whitney to become a cultural anchor in the neighborhood, and provide a resource for the people that  live in the area, a place especially for families, a place to grow up,” Vinson says. “There are more families down in this neighborhood than uptown on the Upper East Side, and we really want people to view the Whitney as a place where they can learn, and that will encourage an ongoing love for art education.”

To learn more about the Whitney’s upcoming tours, workshops, and events, visit whitney.org/families!