7. The Whitney Museum has existed at a number of sites throughout the city
The Whitney Museum today is a $422 million building designed by Renzo Piano in the West Village, spanning eight stories (two of which are devoted to the museum’s permanent collection). Though the building opened in 2015, the Whitney Museum was originally founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Whitney was also the oldest daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who founded the New York Central Railroad, built Grand Central Terminal, and owned a French chateau mansion on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. On West 8th Street in the Greenwich Village, Whitney had a carriage house that functioned as her studio, designed in 1918 by American artist Robert Winthrop Chanler.
Whitney collected art as early as 1905, and after failing to donate hundreds of paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney decided to open her own American art museum in 1929. The museum ultimately moved to a structure on 54th Street behind the Museum of Modern Art, though a fire at the MoMA in 1958 led the Whitney to move again to 945 Madison Avenue nearly a decade later. Until 2018, the Whitney was at the Breuer Building, featuring a granite stone staircase façade. The Whitney also operated a small branch at 55 Water Street from 1973 to 1983, as well as hosted satellite museums across the city. The museum failed multiple times to expand in the Upper East Side due to costs and design failures.