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Whitney Museum of American Art Guide

Located in a privileged enclave next to the Hudson River and the High Line, this pine library offers the largest collection of American art in the world and spectacular panoramic views of New York.

Nuria Rozas

Nuria Rozas

11 min read

Whitney Museum of American Art Guide

Detail of the façade of the Whitney Museum in New York. | ©Julia Juncadella

If you are a lover of modern art, one of the must-see stops on your visit to New York is the Whitney Museum, which houses the finest collection of 20th century American art in the world.

But what's so special about it? Inside, you'll find many of the iconic paintings of the great realist painter Edward Hopper (1882-1968). So, if you haven't already done so, I suggest you put this cultural gem on your list of must-sees in Manhattan.

This museum, which has been able to enrapture even Michelle Obama herself, who attended the opening of the new building in 2015, will surprise you. In this article I explain how to get tickets at a very affordable price, the best days of the week to visit it, what works you can't miss inside and everything you need to know to make the most of your visit. Keep reading!

The best and fastest option

NYC Whitney Museum of American Art Entry Ticket

Avoid the queues and get your priority entrance to the Whitney Museum

Perfect if you want to visit this museum without having to waste time at the ticket office and enjoy the guided tour that is included in the price.

With this low-cost option, in which you only pay a little extra for preferential access to the Whitney Museum, you'll see unique works of art without having to wait in the long lines that form every day. Believe me, this can be exhausting. Besides, we already know that "time is money and when traveling even more so!"

With preferred admission you will have the opportunity and enough time to discover the most comprehensive collection of American art ever. A fact: this museum places special emphasis on works by living artists, which proves that the premise that "any time in the past was better" is not always true.

What does priority admission include?

  • Direct access to the exhibits, with no lines or unnecessary waiting.
  • A daily guided tour to know in depth all the secrets of this museum and not leave any questions unanswered.
  • Free cancellation if your trip suffers last minute changes.

Recommended if... you want to avoid the crowds and lines that form daily at the Whitney Museum ticket office.

How much do Whitney Museum tickets cost?

Opening of the Whitney Museum| ©Lili Xia
Opening of the Whitney Museum| ©Lili Xia

If you buy your tickets to the Whitney Museum of New York online and in advance you will pay only 23 euros on the Hellotickets website. However, if you travel with children, family or have access to a special discount, you may get better prices.

Ticket prices at the box office

It is also a very valid option to buy tickets at the box office and the rate you get will be very similar (21.50 euros), although as mentioned above, you will lose the advantages of acquiring the priority ticket (preferential access, free cancellation and guided tour).

Do not forget that the queues can be very heavy, so I do not recommend buying tickets the same day of the visit (especially to enter at the last minute, since these are sold out weeks before). As you can see the price difference is minimal -for only 1.50 euros, which costs a simple coffee- you will save the displeasure of being left without entering because of poor planning.

Take advantage of special group discounts

However, if in your case you are a free soul, one of those who like to improvise and do not mind going through the ticket office (even if it takes you more time), take note of these reduced prices because I'm sure they interest you. The following groups will be able to access the museum for only 15.5 Euros.

  • Seniors over 65 years old,
  • Visitors with disabilities,
  • Students, who must present the accreditation card.

How to get free admission to the Whitney Museum

On the other hand, children under 18 years of age will be able to enter free of charge. Yes, free of charge. Remember, also, that New York museums have implemented the option to enter with a donation, the famous pay what you wish (" pay what you wish"). Didn't you know?

Every Friday, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Whitney Museum allows visitors to enter through this option. However, it is required to apply for admission in advance because there is a high demand. If you go on very specific dates, it is best to be cautious and book on their official website well in advance.

Book your Whitney Museum ticket here

Whitney Museum opening hours

Inside the Whitney Museum in New York| ©Jim Culp
Inside the Whitney Museum in New York| ©Jim Culp
  • Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday (closed)
  • Friday: 10:30 am - 10:00 pm
  • Saturday: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Sunday: 11:00-18:00

Best time to visit the Whitney

My advice is to try to visit the Whitney Museum during the week and avoid Saturdays and Sundays. Specifically, the best days to discover its collections are Mondays and Wednesdays because they tend to be the least crowded weekdays.

Most museums and monuments in New York are closed on holidays and the Whitney is no exception: on December 25, January 1 and Thanksgiving Day, the institution closes its doors.

Book in advance

As the museum explains on its official website, buying same-day tickets can be tricky. To avoid spoiling your plans, I advise you to purchase your ticket in advance.

Important fact: keep in mind that the last entrance to the museum is 45 minutes before closing time.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

If you are like me, a sunset lover, and you don't know where to enjoy the best sunsets in New York, the terrace of the Whitney Museum is your place, I give you my word!

Where is and how to get to the Whitney Museum

New York Subway| ©Norbert Stening
New York Subway| ©Norbert Stening

The Whitney Museum is located at 99 Gansevoort Street in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, steps from the Hudson River and the West Side Highway.

The Whitney is easily accessible by bicycle, subway, bus and cab.... For most, the easiest way to get to the Whitney Museum (located at 99 Gansevoort Street) is to use the New York City subway.

You can take the A, C, E and L lines (get off at the 14th St stop). The price of a single ticket is about 2,60 €. Here you have this subway map so you can move around the Big Apple without any problem.

The New York MetroCard

A little tip! If you plan to use public transport several times during your trip, the best option is to buy the MetroCard, valid for subway and buses. Unlike major Spanish cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, both the New York subway and buses run 24 hours a day. Here you have the practical guide to use the New York subway.

The Citi Bike system in New York City

If, on the other hand, you are one of those who are easily overwhelmed in the subway, I recommend you to get to the Whitney Museum by bike, the most sustainable and ecological way to get there in the city of skyscrapers. In addition, you can park almost at the door of the museum.

The best option for renting this vehicle is to use the Citi Bike app, New York's public bike rental system. New York's Citi Bike is a cheap and fun option to enjoy every corner of the Big Apple on two wheels. A perfect plan for families with children.

Top works not to miss at the Whitney Museum

Edward Hopper's
Edward Hopper's "Early Sunday Morning".| ©Daniel Kelly

The Whitney Museum is made up of more than 21,000 pieces created by more than 3,000 artists and is especially designed to attract a young-spirited public. It has several floors among which are distributed the temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection, in addition to the own collection of the founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

In the museum you can find the best collection of paintings by Edward Hopper, famous for his portraits of loneliness in American life, whose legacy when he died was donated to this institution. Also on display are works by Andy Warhol, Peggy Bacon, Jackson Pollock, Basquiat, George Bellows and Stuart Davis, among many others.

The museum's must-sees

Don't miss the best works of the gallery:

  • Georgia O'Keeffe's Music, Pink and Blue (1918)
  • Early Sunday Morning, by Edward Hopper (1930)
  • The Brooklyn Bridge, by George Stella (1939)
  • Three Flags, by Jasper Johns (1958)
  • A Woman in the Sun, by Edward Hopper (1961)

Don't miss the traditional Whitney Biennial

On the other hand, every two years the museum organizes the Whitney Biennial, the longest-running exhibition in the country, held since 1932, which shows the latest advances in American art to the general public. It is dedicated, above all, to emerging artists and new proposals.

This exhibition, which attracts thousands of onlookers and visitors, has established itself as one of the most important exhibitions in the world of contemporary art, so much so that it usually leads the trends in the sector. Would you like to attend? Well, you're in luck, because the 2021 Biennial has been postponed and the next one will be held between April and August 2022.

Don't worry if you're not fluent in English because the museum usually offers resources and programs in Spanish during the Biennial, such as a mobile guide, guided tours and free tours of the exhibition. The exhibition signage is also in Spanish.

Did you know that ....?

Renzo Piano, the "Messi of contemporary architects," also designed the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Botín Center in Santander. In his buildings he always incorporates large transparent windows that connect the museums with the city.

How much time you need to visit the Whitney Museum

Works from the Whitney Museum of American Art| ©Vld0363
Works from the Whitney Museum of American Art| ©Vld0363

From my point of view, a two-hour visit is ideal. Although at first it may not seem like much time, realize that, when visiting the place with a specialized guide (there is a tour every day), the time is twice as long as if you saw it on your own. As the Instituto Cervantes proverb says, "lo bueno, si breve, lo bien, dos veces bueno".

If you still have a few minutes to spare, my advice is to take a stroll through the Meatpacking District, a neighborhood of about twenty blocks with a bustling community of artists, galleries, restaurants and nightlife. You can also take the opportunity to tour the High Line Park, a new urban garden built on an old railroad line. Here's my handy guide to the 10 things to do and see on New York's High Line.

If after this walk through the park you still don't feel relaxed, you can spend the afternoon aboard a two and a half hour cruise on the Hudson River, which will allow you to contemplate the Manhattan skyline from the boat and discover the other side of the Big Apple from the water. I advise you to take a look at the best Hudson River cruises in New York.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

If you like street art, I suggest you exit the High Line at the 23rd Street entrance to see the colorful graffiti of Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra.

Where to eat at the Whitney Museum

View from the Terrace of the Whitney Museum in New York City| ©Daniel Kelly
View from the Terrace of the Whitney Museum in New York City| ©Daniel Kelly

If you want to grab a snack or enjoy the sunset with a cocktail, you won't have to leave the building, just take the elevator up to the eighth floor. The museum is home to the Studio Bar restaurant, which serves American cuisine with a modern twist. I recommend you arrive early to get a seat on its fabulous terrace with views.

Here is a small list of prices to give you an idea:

  • Water (2,60 €)
  • Beer (7,80 €)
  • Glass of wine (12 €)
  • Cappuccino (4,30 €)
  • Cocktails with alcohol (13 €)
  • Aperitif (18 €)

Also, if you just want to make a stop during your visit to the gallery and, in the meantime, enjoy watching the passers-by go by with their busy New York life, head to the Andrea and James Gordon restaurant on the first floor, accessible to both museum guests and the general public. Its walls are large glass windows that allow you to enjoy the bustling city quietly with a coffee in hand.

If you are not convinced by any of the options, take a look at this guide to the best places to eat in New York and choose well where to satiate your appetite!

Nuria's Traveller Tip

If you want to enjoy the view from the terrace of the Studio Bar, but don't want to sit down to eat, I suggest you order a cappuccino coffee, it's delicious and you'll warm up!

Recommendations for visiting the Whitney Museum

Inside the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City| ©philanto1
Inside the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City| ©philanto1

My advice is that even if you don't like art, go to the Whitney Museum and go up to the outdoor terraces on the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors that serve as art galleries and spectacular viewpoints. As I mentioned, the top floor is perfect for a romantic aperitif with a view!

Although in the past it was called the "ugliest building in New York", the Whitney Museum has ceased to be the ugly duckling and has been transformed into a swan thanks to the portentous hands of architect Renzo Piano, who has designed the new building with an industrial and modern aesthetic and one of the most impressive views of the Big Apple.

Now all you have to do is buy your tickets, put these recommendations into practice and get ready to see one of the most beautiful viewpoints in New York. Bon voyage to the heights!

Frequently Asked Questions

View of the city from the Whitney Museum| © AllainG
View of the city from the Whitney Museum| © AllainG

Is the Whitney Museum wheelchair accessible?

Yes, all levels of the museum are accessible by elevator. In addition, the entrances to the outdoor terraces are equipped with automatic openers for easy access.

Is there parking for cars near the Whitney Museum?

Yes, there are three parking garages nearby, at 99 Jane Street, 134-36 Jane Street and 385 West 15th Street.

Can I park my bicycle near the Whitney Museum?

Yes, bike racks are available right in front of the museum. On the other hand, parking for the Citi bike system (New York's public bikes) is located at the southwest corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets.

Are Whitney Museum tickets included in any of the city's sightseeing passes?

View of the Empire State Building| ©Alina Grubnyak
View of the Empire State Building| ©Alina Grubnyak

Yes, the best way to see the Whitney and not miss any of the wonders of the city is with the New York Explorer Pass from 69 €, which allows you to visit up to ten attractions in 60 days. Among them, you will be able to enter this gallery, visit the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty or tour the city by bus. If you have time to spare, this is undoubtedly the best alternative for you.

Keep in mind that if you had to see all the attractions on your own, it would be impossible to concentrate them in such a short time, so this is the most efficient way to make the most of your stay without crowds and queues.

Why I like this option: in addition to its good value for money, I recommend the tourist card for including a very complete tour of New York with which you will make the most of your days in this city.

Practical information about the New York Explorer Pass

  • Recommended: if you are going to be in New York for at least two weeks.
  • Number of attractions to choose from: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10
  • Price: from 69 €
  • Advantages: saves time and money (the card allows you to enter the main attractions at a reduced rate)
    Ideal also for families with children, who like to relax and enjoy the sightseeing buses.

Book the best New York City Sightseeing Pass