After being closed for six months, the Whitney Museum of American Art will reopen on May 1 in its brand-new, starchitect-designed building at the southernmost end of the High Line. Price tag: $422 million. The Renzo Piano building will also cost $49 million per year to operate, as opposed to $33 million for its old Upper East Side home, designed by Marcel Breuer. So the museum's leadership has brainstormed a host of measures to cover the increased cost. Chief among them is a boosted admissions price. A ticket to enter will cost $22, up from $20. Tickets jumped from $18 to $20 in 2013, and there was talk of raising the price to $25 to match the Guggenheim and MoMa's entrance fees. $22 was the compromise, in part because the new building's construction got $57 million in city funding. Advance tickets go on sale tomorrow.
Other factors heightening the operating costs include increased staff (from 225 to 300) and opening hours six days per week instead of five. But the Whitney expects memberships to climb and more visitors, especially those also visiting the High Line, to flood in after the new building opens. (Those two sources make up 70 percent of the museum's revenue.) Attendance on the Upper East Side totaled about 350,000 per year, and officials expect that figure to triple at first before it "settles."
The museum's lobby and outdoor loggia are open to the public, which they hope will lure folks just passing by on the High Line. Longer hours will help: the museum won't close until 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through September 27. On Fridays between 7 and 10 p.m., the fee is waived and it's "pay as you wish."
The museum also has a much bigger endowmentit climbed from $275 million today from $53 million in 2003. Revenue from its investments help support the annual budget.
Says the city's cultural affairs commissioner: "It's very expensive to run a bigger space." Let's see how the Whitney fares.
· Whitney: About the New Building [official]
· Whitney Museum Contemplates a Bigger Future, With Bigger Expenses [NYT]
· How the New Whitney Will House Art & Embrace the High Line [Curbed]
· Renzo Piano's Whitney on the High Line Nears Completion [Curbed]
· All Whitney coverage [Curbed]