Split Decision

Whitney Board Divided on Second Building

Even when it opened in 1966, the Whitney Museum of American Art had space issues. With 2,000 pieces in its collection, it could only display 150 at a time in its flagship building on Madison Avenue. And now that its collection numbers about 18,000 works, the problem is causing a rift among the museum’s 45-member board. The progressive majority would like to build a second museum downtown to better show off the Whitney’s world-class collection. But a small group of longtime members, including Leonard Lauder who donated $131 million to the museum in 2006, see the plan as little more than an indulgence. The matter will be a key talking point when the board convenes next month. “This isn’t just the Whitney dreaming again,” said Brooke Garber Neidich, co-chairwoman of the board before adding, “There is a chance we can run two locations. It’s just down to money.”