Jutting out where Bowery and Prince meet in New York’s Lower East Side, the New Museum’s design, by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, Tokyo, is a monumental undertaking—a seven-floor Wabi Sabi monolith of teetering boxes, brimming with three floors of contemporary art and an intimate top floor offering spectacular views of downtown. Due to its edgy architecture, the building was named as one of the seven wonders by Condé Nast Traveller in 2008. New Museum’s commitment to showcasing visionary, daring work by living artists was born from founder Marcia Tucker. Less than 24 hours after the Whitney Museum relieved her from an 8-year tenure as Curator of Painting and Sculpture for staging exhibitions that were deemed too edgy, this innovator created an institution that has quickly became known for its provocative and inspired projects. That was 1977, and ever since then, Manhattan’s sole contemporary art museum has had a reputation for presenting works that are…you guessed it: edgy.
If I am taking a date to a museum, there are two options. The New Museum, even if you don’t love ultra-contemporary work, amps you up. It just smells like new. Then on the other hand you have the Natural History Museum, which most definitely smells like old. But I mean. Dinosaurs and giant whales are hard to beat.