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Meet the Director

About the Whitney

As the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents the full range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists. The Whitney is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art, and its collection—arguably the finest holdings of twentieth-century American art in the world—is the Museum's key resource. The Museum's flagship exhibition, the Biennial, is the country's leading survey of the most recent developments in American art.

Innovation has been a hallmark of the Whitney since its beginnings. It was the first museum dedicated to the work of living American artists and the first New York museum to present a major exhibition of a video artist (Nam June Paik, in 1982). Such important figures as Jasper Johns, Jay DeFeo, Glenn Ligon, Cindy Sherman, and Paul Thek were given their first comprehensive museum surveys at the Whitney. The Museum has consistently purchased works within the year they were created, often well before the artists who created them became broadly recognized.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney's current building vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, providing the most expansive view ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.

2019 Biennial
Floor 1

Solo en Inglès

“It's a snapshot of contemporary art making in the United States today.”—Jane Panetta, 2019 Biennial co-curator

Hear from the artists and curators about works in the exhibition.

Nicholas Galanin, Let them enter dancing and showing their faces: Shaman

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Nicholas Galanin: My name is Nicholas Galanin, Yéil Ya-Tseen. I'm Tlingit and Unangax, based in Sitka, Alaska.

Narrator: Galanin made the work in the East-facing window of Untitled restaurant—in the direction of the High Line, away from the river. It’s also visible from the Museum’s main lobby, and it’s called Let them enter dancing and showing their faces: Shaman

Nicholas Galanin: I like the idea of this work being at the entrance and in Tlingit culture, we have entrance dances where you slowly reveal your face as you enter into the space.

Narrator: The image comes from a monoprint the artist made, depicting a woman in profile. She’s wearing a labret, a lower-lip ornament that is worn by high-ranking women in Tlingit and Unangax communities. 

Nicholas Galanin: I think that reference to an acknowledgement of women is what a lot of our current society needs to move forward in a positive way. 

And it's a reference to these actions that connect us. The actions I'm referencing are the processing of subsistence, smoking our salmon, cleaning the salmon, picking berries, our relationship to land, our relationship to the next generation and our children and that love that's in that process. 

Nicholas Galanin: My name is Nicholas Galanin, Yéil Ya-Tseen. I'm Tlingit and Unangax, based in Sitka, Alaska.

Narrator: Galanin made the work in the East-facing window of Untitled restaurant—in the direction of the High Line, away from the river. It’s also visible from the Museum’s main lobby, and it’s called Let them enter dancing and showing their faces: Shaman

Nicholas Galanin: I like the idea of this work being at the entrance and in Tlingit culture, we have entrance dances where you slowly reveal your face as you enter into the space.

Narrator: The image comes from a monoprint the artist made, depicting a woman in profile. She’s wearing a labret, a lower-lip ornament that is worn by high-ranking women in Tlingit and Unangax communities. 

Nicholas Galanin: I think that reference to an acknowledgement of women is what a lot of our current society needs to move forward in a positive way. 

And it's a reference to these actions that connect us. The actions I'm referencing are the processing of subsistence, smoking our salmon, cleaning the salmon, picking berries, our relationship to land, our relationship to the next generation and our children and that love that's in that process.