NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- The Whitney Museum of American Art is one week away from opening the doors at its new location in New York's meatpacking district, doubling the facility's exhibit space.
After several years of planning and building, the museum has moved from its Madison Avenue location to downtown Manhattan near the High Line and Hudson River. The extra space allows the facility to display exhibitions within the context of its permanent collection of 20th and 21st century American art.
"Our expansive new permanent collection galleries will be a game changer for the Whitney," said Donna De Salvo, chief curator and deputy director for programs. "They will afford a level of space unprecedented in our history to display iconic works and present provocative new narratives of art in the United States."
"We are creating an environment in which visitors will be encouraged to connect deeply with art through an irreplaceable first-hand experience," said Adam Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown director of the museum. "This building will be a place of focused engagement, a site for discovery and risk-taking. Here the most important, challenging and courageous artists of our time will have a constant presence."
Pritzker Prize-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the new building, conceiving of it "as a laboratory for artists," a release from the museum said.
The building, located on Gansevoort Street between Washington and West streets, is 220,000 square feet and nine stories tall. There is about 50,000 square feet of interior exhibition space.
"The design of this building emerged from many years of conversations with the Whitney, which took us back to the museum's origins," Piano said. "We spoke about the roots of the Whitney in downtown New York, and about this opportunity to enjoy the open space by the Hudson River.
"Museum experience is about art, and it is also about being connected to this downtown community and to this absolutely extraordinary physical setting."
The building's inaugural exhibit, "America is Hard to See," focuses on the history of American art since 1900 and features more than 600 works by about 400 artists. The title comes from a Robert Frost poem.
The Whitney Museum officially opens its doors to the public May 1.