8. The Whitney Was The First Museum Dedicated To The Work Of Living American Artists

As a museum of American art, the Whitney exhibits 20th-century and contemporary art, but is more specifically focused on those by living American artists. The Museum consistently purchases works within a year of their making, many times before the artists has even reached notable fame.

In the beginning of the 20th century, many American artists found it difficult to pursue their professions. Their experimental ideas made exhibiting and selling near impossible in the United States. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor in her own right, was an advocate for the living American artists and created the Whitney Studio in Greenwich Village to support the work.

In 1929, after amassing a collection of over 500 works, she offered it with an endowment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who refused to show it. So instead, she took those works and in 1931, opened the Whitney Museum of American Art in the studio West 8th Street in Greenwich Village.