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Kimmelman on the New Whitney: Hey, It's Better Than MoMA

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The reviews are in for Renzo Piano's new Downtown Whitney, and the Times' Michael Kimmelman, like New York Magazine's Justin Davidson, is lukewarm on the design. Also like Davidson, he uses the new museum as an opportunity to take a few shots at the Museum of Modern Art, such as: "the new Whitney asserts that temple and hangout aren't mutually exclusive — that a modern art museum neither has to dumb itself down nor make itself intimidating, but can be both sanctuary and civic center. Of course that's what most museums today claim they are. The mall-like MoMA proves how hard the balance is to strike." Also: "I remember liking the present Museum of Modern Art before it opened in 2004. For the life of me, I can't now imagine what I was thinking."

For Kimmelman, much of the accomplishment of Piano's design is defined by the pitfalls it avoids. "The new museum isn't a masterpiece," he writes. "But it is a deft, serious achievement, a signal contribution to downtown and the city's changing cultural landscape. Unlike so much big-name architecture, it's not some weirdly shaped trophy building into which all the practical stuff of a working museum must be fitted."
· A New Whitney [NYT]
· New Whitney Likened to 'Prodigiously Misassembled' Ikea Item [Curbed]
· The Whitney coverage [Curbed]