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What’s Up with the Whitney: Family Programs at the High Line

JUL 18, 2012

A view of the new building site, visible through the High Line’s maintenance and operations building, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

A view of the new building site, visible through the High Line’s maintenance and operations building, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

On Saturday, May 19, families visited the High Line park for What’s Up with the Whitney. We partnered with Friends of the High Line on this sun-drenched day to check out the Whitney’s new building site and design how we envision museums in the future.

Families look at the Whitney building project construction  site, 2012. Photography by Ai Wee Seow

Families look at the Whitney building project construction  site, 2012. Photography by Ai Wee Seow

Although the Whitney is not scheduled to open until 2015, families got a sneak peek at the construction progress. Kids and parents were thrilled to see the site of the future Whitney—currently a massive hole, bustling with pipes, cranes, and construction workers. Looking toward the Hudson River, we imagined the Whitney’s building looming in the West Side skyline.

Kids design their museums of the future, 2012. Photography by Ai Wee Seow

Kids design their museums of the future, 2012. Photography by Ai Wee Seow

Next, kids were invited to design museums of their own. Whitney educators asked kids to consider who would attend their museum, what kind of work they would display, and how they could incorporate features that would make their buildings unique. The young architects sketched their ideas, coming up with inventive proposals. Some kids hung paintings on the outside of buildings, while others allowed dogs to visit the museum. One girl combined old and new architectural elements: visitors entered through a facade of classical columns and exited via water slides.

Kids discuss their museums’ special features, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Kids discuss their museums’ special features, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

After sketching, families stopped by the High Line’s Fourteenth Street Passage to add collage materials to their blueprints. In addition to considering the function of their museums, kids contemplated what kinds of materials would best achieve their goals. Cellophane became floor-to-ceiling windows, foil formed steel beams, and shingles were cut out of wood grain-patterned paper. Some kids constructed three-dimensional models of their museums.

Kids add construction materials to their blueprints, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Kids add construction materials to their blueprints, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Kids carefully craft their buildings at the High Line’s Fourteenth Street Passage, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Kids carefully craft their buildings at the High Line’s Fourteenth Street Passage, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow


Kids also put their construction skills to the test with the Children’s Workyard Kit. Designed specifically for the High Line by industrial designer and toy inventor Cas Holman, the kit is a mobile crate filled with planks, wheels, ropes, gears, pulleys, and other assorted items. Kids tinkered with the objects to create their own architectural wonders.

A young architect displays her model, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

A young architect displays her model, 2012. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

While the activities focused on buildings, the real lesson of the day was about community. Working with our future neighbors at the High Line, we were excited to see Whitney Family Program regulars alongside new faces. As the Museum prepares to move downtown we have a lot of new friends to meet!

By Desi Gonzalez, Education Assistant

Learn more about Family Programs here.