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The Whitney Museum Breaks Ground On New Home

by Ashwin Bhandari
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Mayor Bloomberg speaking
Ashwin Bhandari/WFUV

Mayor Bloomberg and other luminaries attend the museum's groundbreaking ceremony.

The Whitney is on the move again. The Manhattan museum is returning to its roots, just a stone's throw away from its original location on 8ᵗʰ street.

Prtizker award winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the museum's home. In a statement, he said "the design for the museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney's needs and from a response to this remarkable site."  Mayor Bloomberg added that ideas like those set New York's institututions apart from the rest.

The groundbreaking ceremony was an unusual one. In a specially comissioned piece, Breaking Ground, choreographer Elizabeth Streb stood beneath a barrel filled with dirt.  As dancers dove through glass panes, the dirt showered Ms. Streb, creating a pile around her.  Museum director Adam Weinberg and the mayor shoveled her out, effectively "breaking ground".

"That's what art is," the mayor said after the performance, "art is, great art, is something that you never would have thought of if somebody asked you a thousand times to come up with something."

The groundbreaking ceremony was only one event in a nine day celebration of the Whitney's new home.

The Whitney's new location on Gansevoort Street is scheduled to open in 2015. After the museum finishes moving its collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to step in and begin an eight year lease of the Whitney's current Madison Avenue location.

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