- Turquoise shovels hanging from the ceiling, presumably to re-emphasize that after a decade (or decades, depending on who you ask) of planning, the new Whitney Museum project is finally shovel-ready.
Yesterday morning staff, board members and friends of the Whitney Museum, along with a cross-section of the New York art world, gathered in a tent on a Gansevoort Street lot between Washington Street and the Hudson River where, in 2015, the uptown museum of American will open its new building.
- An interior view of the tent at the future site of the new Whitney building, with shovel canopy and yellow industrial drums.
The groundbreaking ceremony featured speeches from Mayor Bloomberg, Whitney Director Adam Weinberg, architect Renzo Piano and founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's granddaughter, along with a performance by Elizabeth Streb's Streb Extreme Action company, all under a canopy of turquoise shovels.
- The ceremonial red shovels, lying in wait for their wielders.
- The woman sitting next to me pointed out that among the hundreds of gleaming turquoise shovels overhead, exactly one seemed to be second-hand.
- Mayor Bloomberg made the opening speech.
- Serveral speakers later, Renzo Piano, the architect of the new Whitney, made an amusing speech while holding a Styrofoam model of the building, which he likened to a meteorite.
- In STREB Extreme Action's purpose-made performance "Breaking Ground," which lasted a minute at the most, six dancers leapt through suspended glass windows, breaking them while two drums worth of ground poured onto Elizabeth Streb.
- Mayor Bloomberg, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Whitney Director Adam Weinberg then broke the ground at Streb's feet with their bright red shovels.
- Outside, Adam Weinberg and Mayor Bloomberg spoke to the public and took questions under the High Line.
- Ground was broken. See you in 2015.
The ceremony also featured premiere this video, narrated by Lorna Simpson, recounting the Whitney's history and offering many new views of what the future building will look like inside and out.
When the Whitney moves to the new building in 2015, it will keep some storage space in its current Upper East Side home, whose galleries and operation will be taken over by the Metropolitan Museum to display its contemporary and modern art collections.