Mission & Values
The Whitney Museum of American Art seeks to be the defining museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American art. The Museum collects, exhibits, preserves, researches, and interprets art of the United States in the broadest global, historical, and interdisciplinary contexts. As the preeminent advocate for American art, we foster the work of living artists at critical moments in their careers. The Whitney educates a diverse public through direct interaction with artists, often before their work has achieved general acceptance.
The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930. An artist and philanthropist, she believed that artists were essential to defining, challenging, and expanding culture. The Museum became a site where artists and audiences engaged openly with untested ideas. Today, this history informs who we are and how we serve our public. The Whitney believes:
- in the power of artists and art to shape lives and communities;
- that we must be as experimental, responsive, and risk-taking as the artists with whom we collaborate;
- in creating experiences that engage and raise questions for our audiences, and, in turn, learning from our audiences;
- that our work embraces complexity and encourages an inclusive idea of America;
- in the importance of history: that the past informs our present and that contemporary art can help us better understand our past and realize our future;
- that we must lead with expertise, debate, self-reflection, and integrity;
- that the Whitney thrives because of relationships—among artists, audiences, staff, and board alike—forged from dialogue, premised on respect, and committed to a shared purpose.