Whitney Museum Director Adam Weinberg Will Step Down After 20 Years, Paving the Way for Curator Scott Rothkopf to Succeed Him


Adam Weinberg, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s director for the past two decades, will step down from his role at the expiration of his contract on October 31, the institution announced today. 

He will be succeeded by Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s current senior deputy director and chief curator, who will officially start in his new position on November 1. Weinberg will assist Rothkopf during the transition and, afterward, will remain on with the museum under the title of director emeritus. He will see through several in-process projects, including renovating the Roy Lichtenstein Studio into the first permanent home of the Whitney’s Independent Study Program.

“It has been the greatest joy and privilege of my life to lead the Whitney for all these years, working with its deeply committed and caring trustees, its superb and mission-driven staff, and the inspiring and devoted community of artists, so that we could serve the people of New York and the world of contemporary art and ideas,” Weinberg said in a statement.

“Even as I now step aside to take on new opportunities in the cultural community, as everyone knows, my heart will always be with the Whitney.”

Rothkopf, a former art critic who joined the Whitney in 2019, has curated landmark shows at the museum including “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective,” and “Glenn Ligon: America.”

“I am tremendously grateful to the board for the opportunity to further serve this extraordinary institution and to build on Adam’s remarkable legacy,” Rothkopf said in a statement. “Since joining its unsurpassed staff, I’ve been devoted to the Whitney and everything it stands for: a profound commitment to artists; courage and openness to change; a deep care for audiences and community; and a warm and inclusive spirit. We’re extremely well poised for the next chapter, which promises to be more vital and relevant than ever.”

Adam Weinberg, Jeff Koons, and Scott Rothkopf [L to R] attend the H&M Flagship Fifth Avenue Store launch event on July 15, 2014. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Weinberg’s tenure as director—a ​​period of significant growth and change for the New York institution.

The Whitney’s relocation from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to its current home downtown will no doubt go down as Weinberg’s signature contribution. The move had profound impacts on the footprints of both the museum and the New York arts landscape, and helped established the Meatpacking District as a popular cultural destination.     

During Weinberg’s tenure, museum attendance went from 400,000 to a pre-pandemic peak of 1.2 million, while membership totals grew from 12,000 to 50,000. The staff size doubled from roughly 200 to 400; endowment increased from $40 million to its current total of $400 million, and nearly 4,000 artworks were added to the venue’s collection. 

The outgoing director oversaw more than 300 exhibitions, including big-ticket solo shows dedicated to Carmen Herrera, Jeff Koons, Julie Mehretu, and Frank Stella, as well as nine Whitney Biennials. Weinberg also held various leadership positions for 10 years at the museum for 10 years before being promoted to director in 2003.  

“Adam has been a once-in-a-generation director for the Whitney, involved with the museum for three decades of its nearly 100-year history,” Richard DeMartini and Fern Kaye Tessler, the institution’s chairman and president, respectively, said in a joint statement. The duo praised Weinberg for the “boldness of his vision, the brilliance of his inspiration, and the exceptional combination of effectiveness and personal generosity he brought to bear in transforming the Whitney.”


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