From the Director

Dear Whitney Community,

As I near the end of my first month as the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum, I want to take a moment to thank our incredible community—visitors, neighbors, artists, members, patrons, and more—for your warm welcome and generous support. I couldn’t be more excited or honored to begin my next chapter at a place I love so much.

In many ways, my new role feels like a fresh start, but it also feels like the continuation of a nearly forty-year journey. I first visited the Whitney with my grandparents when I was a kid and fell in love with Calder’s Circus, which inspired me to make some gangly sculptures out of wire hangers back home in Dallas. I saw my first Biennial in 1997 and I haven’t missed one since. A year later, I interned at the Museum, and in 2009 got my first “real” job at the Whitney as a curator, before becoming chief curator when we moved downtown.

Now, I start as Director at the end of an incredible year for the institution. We began with the final months of two landmark shows: Edward Hopper’s New York, which set attendance records, and no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria, the first survey of Puerto Rican art at an American art museum in half a century.

Since then, the Museum has showcased a wide range of innovative artists, including solo shows dedicated to Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith, Henry Taylor, Josh Kline, Harry Smith, Ruth Asawa, Ilana Savdie, and Natalie Ball. We also continue to feature digital art, most recently our first interactive augmented reality experience on the eighth-floor terrace, Nancy Baker Cahill: CENTO.

And there is much to look forward to. Before the end of the year we will fully open our ground-floor restaurant Frenchette Bakery, complete with a newly-commissioned artwork by Rashid Johnson. Our eighth floor restaurant will open in 2024 with a commission from Dyani White Hawk. In the spring, the Whitney Biennial returns, and in the fall we debut a landmark retrospective of Alvin Ailey. Additionally, in the coming weeks I look forward to sharing some exciting news about ways the Museum will grow its audience and reduce barriers to access.

For nearly my whole life, I have cared deeply about the Whitney, particularly as an inclusive institution that centers artists and their work, sparks imagination and conversation, and inspires deep thinking as much as delight. As we embark on this next chapter, I promise to nurture these values, and I remain grateful, as always, for your support.

Warm regards,

Scott Rothkopf
Alice Pratt Brown Director
Whitney Museum of American Art

December 2023