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Whitney, Obama Library, Frick Lead Museum Real Estate Rush

National
    Whitney, Obama Library, Frick Lead Museum Real Estate Rush

    After years of anticipation the new Whitney Museum will open its doors to the public on Friday. The 200K SF, Renzo Piano-designed building cost $422M to construct over nearly four years.

    But it's what's inside that really counts, and the collection of modern and contemporary American art's relocation downtown from the Upper East Side's Museum Mile to the Meatpacking District, at the base of the High Line, is a profound testament to New York's realigned cultural landscape.

    The Whitney isn't the only museum to be making pivotal real estate moves. As the art market and tourism dollars boom, shrines to the classics are increasingly thirsting for something new.

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    Museum Campus, Chicago

    Museum Campus, Chicago

    The Field Museum of Natural History, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium currently cluster around the Windy City's 57-acre museum epicenter. Last year, George Lucas' Lucas Narrative Arts Museum chose Chicago, and Museum Campus, as the future site of its ode to visual artistry. That 17-acre property should open in 2018. The second, more controversial new jewel to the area's crown is the Obama Presidential Library.

    Two local educational pillars are battling to host the Obama site (whose final location is another source of contention). And the private University of Chicago has raised eyebrows over what some consider a land grab for the $500M project given the shallower pockets of a rival bidder, University of Illinois at Chicago. A final decision was delayed until after the Chicago mayoral runoff earlier this month and President Obama will reportedly name a location soon. 

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    Bass Museum, Miami

    Bass Museum, Miami

    Just 13 years after its last expansion, the Bass is seeking approval for a redesign that would increase gallery space in its Collins Avenue building by nearly 50%. Roomier digs would lend the museum even more leeway for its already freewheeling exhibitions that typically juxtapose different art genres from disparate historical periods. Miami's Historic Preservation Board should weigh in on the proposal in the coming weeks. But a bigger question hangs over the long-rumored but never-quite-confirmed merger of the Bass with the city's Museum of Contemporary Art.

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    Frick Collection, New York

    Frick Collection, New York

    Last summer the Frick announced plans for a six-story addition to its Beaux-Arts mansion housing Henry Clay Frick's vaunted collection of European old masterworks. Preservationists immediately cried foul, saying that in order to complete its goal the institution would have to renege on a promise to maintain in perpetuity a garden courtyard.

    Museum leadership contends that that 38-year-old pledge to the landmarks commission hinged on the collection's "foreseeable minimal needs" and that the garden is all but inaccessible to the public. But while the garden has become a focal point of the project, whose fate will be determine soon, some Frick fans worry more generally that growth would diminish the building's small-scale charm.