On October 5th, The Andy Warhol Museum opened its newly renovated lobby and store. While a lobby and store may seem relatively unimportant given the treasure trove of Warhol’s work that awaits on the upper floor, these spaces are actually critical in shaping the visitor’s experience of the museum. This is particularly true for an institution focused on Andy Warhol, whose work depends upon understanding the social context in which it was created.
The centerpiece of our new lobby is an enormous blow-up of William John Kennedy’s Homage to Warhol’s Marilyn (1964), generously donated to The Warhol by Kiwi Arts Group. In the image, Warhol stands in The Factory, sunlight flooding through the window, illuminating him as he holds aloft the acetate of Marilyn Monroe that would later make some of his most famous paintings. Here we see Warhol in a new way – young, triumphant, about to conquer the art world through transforming the images of movie stars that he were his childhood refuge. We literally see Warhol through his art.
As in Kennedy’s image, The Warhol’s lobby is covered in silver brick and newly opened windows fill the space with a beautiful light. Suddenly in this setting, the viewer is emotionally connected to Warhol, who some might otherwise think of as a remote or mysterious figure. The great power of Kennedy’s portraits of Warhol are to bring him alive as both an artist and a man. With such an inspiring start, we hope patrons will carry this view of Andy Warhol throughout their visit.