Like any jilted fifty-year-old who has taken a new lover, the building now known as the Met Breuer has a new mojo. Marcel Breuer’s Madison Avenue monolith, built for the Whitney Museum of American Art and now home to the Met’s new galleries for modern and contemporary art, is celebrating its half-century mark in style. Unlike the cruise ship that Renzo Piano designed for the Whitney downtown, this granite museum, with its timber-set concrete and slate floors, exudes the stern elegance of a fine gray suit. Brutalist architecture rarely has a happy second life, and preservationists will mark the building’s transition (under the direction of the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle) with relief and pleasure. So should museumgoers. The Met Breuer may be the world’s largest museum named after an architect, but it feels like a place to think deeply about art. Instead of sunset, skyline, or park, Breuer’s trapezoidal windows look out on jumbled uptown brickwork. The building, once thought to be competing with the art for attention, seems to be telling us: Forget the city. The real action is in here.
Closed Monday and major holidays
Tuesday–Thursday: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
945 Madison Avenue, Manhattan