The Most Insightful and Outrageous Yelp Reviews of the New Whitney Museum
What does the public think of the critically-acclaimed new Whitney Museum?
Is art criticism dead? No, but thanks to social media, a new strain has emerged. Vernacular criticism, a term coined by art critic Brian Droitcour in a 2014 essay, is, in short, criticism, traditionally reserved for “professionals,” written on the popular review website Yelp (by laymen). Rather than the giving the opinions of just a few specialists on a piece of art or a gallery show, Yelp allows you to see what the average person thinks. Opinions abound not just on art, but also on the restaurants you can eat at while looking at art, the roof decks you can lounge on while enjoying panoramic views of New Jersey in the presence of art, and the bathrooms you can use to freshen up in between looking at art—the physical spaces that house art.
For art critics and plebeians alike, the New Whitney was the most talked about cultural institution to open in the city this year. Designed by Renzo Piano, the Meatpacking District building opened to the public on May 1 with the inaugural show, “America Is Hard to See.” The old Whitney, designed by Marcel Breuer and located on the Upper East Side, went out with a shiny, inflatable bang with last year’s Jeff Koons retrospective.
Droitcour might be the only art world professional to use Yelp as a platform for critique (and as you’ll see, his review tops our list). Alongside his opinion are those from enthusiastic (or disillusioned) amateurs. With a 4-star overall rating, Yelpers concede that the new building is a success, but not all were completely sold. We read every Yelp review of the new Whitney (and edited them for brevity) to find the public’s most insightful and outrageous thoughts on the new space. They’re guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and shake your head in confusion.
Brian D., Jackson Heights, NY, 5 Stars
“six stars… Eight stars … ELEVEN STARS!!! I LOVE the new Whitney. … What’s so great about it? Well, the air quality is really great… I especially liked a gallery on the 6th floor I call the “gay witch room” (they call it “Scotch Tape”).”
Kimi R., Brooklyn, NY, 5 Stars
“The curators had big balls to open with this show!”
Alexandra L., Manhattan, NY, 3 Stars
“The art…I use that term lightly… didn’t make me feel anything (besides disappointment)…I’ve spent countless afternoons at the Met, Moma, the Leuve [sic], every museum you can imagine in Italy, and this was just not for me. I like art that makes me feel something, anything really. At the Whitney I was just left feeling confused and unsatisfied (Insert “that’s what she said” joke).”
Paul L., Los Angeles, CA, 5 Stars
“The new Whitney looks like an ocean liner berthed to a dock that is the High Line. As I got into the more than block-long line with the other passengers—I mean, visitors—I thought I had no chance of getting on this cruise. Fortunately, one of the workers went through the line holding up membership applications. I gladly bid bon voyage and jumped the queue to renew my lapsed membership. All aboard.”
Justin L., Brooklyn, NY, 4 Stars
“Great space by The Highline. The collection pales to MoMA. Very accessible.”
Juliane L., New York, NY, 4 Stars
“It’s funny how people can go on and on and on about the amazingness of modern art. Come on! Most of it is pretty ridiculous.”
Whitten O., Nashville, TN, 1 Star
[Renzo Piano is] the poor man’s starchitect…The gallery space feels like a showroom in an outlet mall…What I would like to take issue in this review is, however, the museum restaurant…The food was very underwhelming, almost as overall underwhelming as the very introductory textbook first exhibition of their collection. Go to any museum other than this one; the gender neutral bathrooms are the only thing salvaging this experience from one star.”
Grainne M., Birmingham, UK, 5 Stars
“My sister had been raving about the new Whitney, and then my doctor also started going on about it, so I thought that it was somewhere I couldn’t really skip on my NYC trip. I’m so glad that I listened to both of them! It’s just stunning…Would absolutely go again, and thanks to my sister and doctor!”
Bruce B., Franklin Lakes, NJ, 1 Star
“Definitely don’t bring your family”
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