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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.

Where We Are

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960.

Elsie Driggs, Pittsburgh, 1927

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Narrator: Cough, cough, splutter, choke. It’s a little hard to breathe here, outside the factory.

Elsie Driggs made this somber painting of one of the many steel mills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She liked the cylinder shapes of the chimneys and tubes and thought they had a “cool and classical” beauty. But she wasn't allowed to look inside the factory—the owners told her it was no place for a woman. Instead she found a view from a hill just above the mills. What do you think about that?

Take a look at the colors that Driggs used to make this painting. Why do you think she chose them? What kind of environment is Driggs showing you? It’s pretty dirty, right? But when Driggs made the painting, people didn’t realize what a problem pollution was going to cause. For her, this scene was beautiful.

Close up view of smokestacks

Narrator: Cough, cough, splutter, choke. It’s a little hard to breathe here, outside the factory.

Elsie Driggs made this somber painting of one of the many steel mills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She liked the cylinder shapes of the chimneys and tubes and thought they had a “cool and classical” beauty. But she wasn't allowed to look inside the factory—the owners told her it was no place for a woman. Instead she found a view from a hill just above the mills. What do you think about that?

Take a look at the colors that Driggs used to make this painting. Why do you think she chose them? What kind of environment is Driggs showing you? It’s pretty dirty, right? But when Driggs made the painting, people didn’t realize what a problem pollution was going to cause. For her, this scene was beautiful.


Elsie Driggs, Pittsburgh, 1927. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 × 40 1/4 in. (87 × 102.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.177 © Estate of Elsie Driggs