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Brand World

La génération Y a son musée

11/05/2015 - par Mark Tungate

Notre chroniqueur britannique Mark Tungate est encore ébloui par sa visite du Whitney Museum of American Art, à New York, qui vient de rouvrir ses portes après son déménagement. Et qui donne un sacré coup de vieux à tous ses concurrents.

I’ve just visited the first museum designed for the millennial generation. When we arrived in New York, the whole town was buzzing about the re-opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art in its new home: a 422 million dollar building conceived by starry Italian architect Renzo Piano. Visually, it resembles the wreck of a container ship – in a good way.

As museums must these days, the #NewWhitney arrived on a tide of marketing, both actual and virtual. Michelle Obama cut the ribbon on opening night; the fashion brand Max Mara launched a branded Whitney handbag (which makes sense, as the edifice is located in the trendy Meatpacking District). And the hashtag I’ve just mentioned spawned more than 6,000 Instagrams in the first four days. Curbed.com called it «the most social museum ever».

Fortunately, the Whitney is much more than that. When we strolled up at 10.30 last Sunday morning, we were greeted by an impressive but fast-moving queue. Admission is timed, so when we arrived at the huge row of ticket booths, there were still plenty of places left for the 11.30 slot. We hung out in the airy bookstore and made plans for lunch at the museum’s restaurant, Untitled.

At last, an elevator the size of a meat truck whisked us to the top floor, where we began our tour of American art history. All the greats were there: Hopper, Pollock, Warhol, plus many I was delighted to discover. The first surprise was that we were allowed to take photographs, which immediately made the museum feel friendly, inclusive and, well, millennial. The wide rooms were filled with light and gave onto selfie-friendly balconies where you could gaze out over the city, drooling. As one of the guides put it: «We wanted to bring the city into the museum.» She pointed out that some of the buildings Edward Hopper painted were just around the corner.

We drifted through the museum as if on a summer breeze. It wasn’t education, or entertainment, but a seductive blend of the two, an experience I once heard described as «cultural chilling».

One thing is for sure: the Whitney will make every other museum you’ve visited feel out of date.

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