The Whitney Museum Art Elevator

Artist Richard Artschwager has designed the insides of four elevators at the new Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City. The elevators are the only permanent art in the building, whose galleries opened their doors in 2015. The elevators, the biggest nearly 15 feet wide, will be in constant use when the museum is open. When it is closed, they will be left open on the ground floor and illuminated from within so the entire installation will be visible from outside through the building’s all-glass lobby.

 
Models for elevators designed by Richard Artschwager for the Whitney Museum’s new home.  Credit Richard Artschwager

Models for elevators designed by Richard Artschwager for the Whitney Museum’s new home.
Credit Richard Artschwager

 

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, enlisted the artist Richard Artschwager to design the elevators about two years ago. Having the elevators function as a work of art guarantees that “there will always be something on view,” whatever the hour, Mr. Weinberg said.


While they will be Mr. Artschwager’s only functioning elevators, they are not his first. In 1981 he made “Janus III (Elevator),” a sculptural elevator cab fashioned from chrome and Formica that has its own interior lighting. It is in the collection of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany; visitors can walk inside and press a button, activating a sound, and then experience the sense of going up and down in a real elevator. (“Janus III” was included in the Whitney’s 1988 Artschwager retrospective.)

JANUS III (ELEVATOR) 1983  FORMICA, PLASTIC AND ALUMINUM 233,7 X 233,7 X 467,4 CM

JANUS III (ELEVATOR) 1983
FORMICA, PLASTIC AND ALUMINUM
233,7 X 233,7 X 467,4 CM