By Alicia Powell
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Whitney Museum of American Art will open up its new home in downtown New York City on May 1 with an exhibition that details the history of art in the United States from 1900 to the present day.
The show, "America is Hard to See," will be the first in the museum's new location in Manhattan's meatpacking district on the lower Westside in the nine-story building designed by architect Renzo Piano.
"It's quite an amazing experience," said Adam Weinberg, the director of the museum. "It's very rare that you open a ground-up museum in the city of New York.
The museum moved into the new building, which features outdoor galleries and terraces that will showcase large-scale pieces, after 50 years uptown in Manhattan.
"It's often that there are renovations or wings added, but this is the first time, I think probably in quite a long time, that there has been a building designed where you basically started from scratch," Weinberg added in an interview.
When it opens next Friday the space will feature the largest column-free museum exhibition space in New York which is designed to give artists and curators extraordinary freedom, according to the museum.
The Whitney's collection includes 22,000 works of art, with masterpieces by artists ranging from Edward Hopper to Jasper Johns. More than 600 pieces will be on view.
"America is Hard to See" will focus on themes, ideas, and beliefs of artists with familiar and unknown works.
"I think one of the great things of this exhibition is that people are going to see the things they know well, 'Calder's Circus,' Edward Hopper's 'Early Sunday Morning,' Georgia O'Keeffe. But then they are also going to see many things they haven't seen before. Actually some of them are things we haven't seen for a very long time," said Donna De Salvo, the chief curator and deputy director for programs.
(Writing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)