Whitney Studio
Apr 24, 2012

Education is delighted to announce the opening of the Whitney Studio, a new education space conceived in collaboration with the New York-based architecture firm LOT-EK (pronounced "low-tech"). Installed in the Sculpture Court near the entrance to the Museum, the structure brings new visibility to the Whitney’s education programs. “We really do put education front and center,” said Museum director Adam D. Weinberg, in a recent New York Times article that featured the project. 

LOT-EK’s architectural concept transformed six steel shipping containers into a 472-square foot pop-up studio, providing much-needed space for the Whitney’s education programs for adults, families, NYC public school students and teachers, teens, seniors, and visitors with disabilities. Programs will include classes, studio demonstrations, and art-making workshops. With uses ranging from a formal meeting space or seminar room to a screening room or messy art studio, the structure will also function as an exhibition space to showcase work created by participants in the programs. 

LOT-EK, headed by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, creates projects that synthesize art, design, and architecture. By repurposing objects typically considered the debris of urban life—a technique the firm calls “upcycling”—its architects challenge conventional standards of building practices and materials. LOT-EK has a long relationship with the Whitney, designing—among other projects—2004’s Mobile Dwelling Unit, an entirely habitable living space made from the same kind of discarded shipping containers that comprise the Studio. This experimental ethos made LOT-EK the Whitney’s ideal partner to solve the space problem that arose last year when, in preparation for its 2015 move to Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the Museum sold the neighboring brownstones that housed offices and lost the space where many education programs took place.

Newly installed in the Sculpture Court, this new structure will enable Education to integrate, physically and programmatically, art-making and experiential learning with the in-gallery experience for all audiences. It provides flexible space for the Whitney’s signature education offerings to continue, yet also allows for the introduction of new experimental programs such as Open Studio, a series of drop-in workshops for families with children ages 6 to 10. On select Sunday afternoons, families can swing by the studio to enjoy hands-on activities with a Museum educator, allowing for further exploration of the Biennial 2012 exhibition and the Whitney’s collection. In April, Open Studio will focus on sculpture and installation. “This space allows us to think and work like artists,” says Margie Weinstein, Manager of Education Initiatives, it fully engages us in the messy creative process.” 

Watch a LOT-EK animation of the project

By Elizabeth Pisano, Education Intern