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Whitney Museum to Offer Year of Free Admission to Construction Workers

by Mostafa Heddaya on May 19, 2014

Schenck Whitney 2014_03_20 DSC_6297

Whitney Museum of American Art, A view of the Renzo Piano building from the West Side Highway, March 2014 (photograph by Timothy Schenck)

At a hard-hat tour of the Whitney’s Renzo Piano-designed building in downtown Manhattan earlier this month, it was announced that the institution plans to extend a year of museum membership to the project’s construction workers. Hyperallergic followed up with the Whitney to confirm the details of the program:

We are working with Turner Construction, the company that is responsible for building our new home downtown, to ensure that all construction workers who are contributing their time and effort to the project will be given complimentary admission for the first year that we are open. We are delighted to recognize the contribution that these workers have made to the realization of our new home.

In today’s front-page New York Timeinvestigation of labor conditions at the New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi campus, which joins the Guggenheim, Louvre, and other institutions being built on Saadiyat Island, vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi Al Bloom’s comments to thousands of construction workers at a recent safety ceremony are quoted:

All of you have worked so very hard on this project. Your children are benefiting from the work that you do on this project. There is no reason that those children, as they get educated in your country, that they can’t apply to go to school here. And just think about how exciting it would be for them to attend a school that you built.

The Times report details extensive violations of laborers’ rights, including passport withholding, wage withholding, recruitment debts, unsanitary living conditions, the violent interrogation of suspected organizers, and summary deportation.

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