A graphic pattern of pixilated cherry blossoms on the New Museum’s restroom walls (images courtesy of the museum)

What’s better than a clean and beautifully designed restroom? They’re hard to find, even in the palatial buildings of museums and cultural institutions. But if nature calls during a visit to the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, one can expect a pleasant experience. To make it official, a national restroom contest rating America’s best restrooms includes the New Museum’s restroom among its finalists.

America’s Best Restroom” contest, organized by the restroom supplies corporation Cintas, celebrates public restrooms across the US that “go above and beyond to provide unique and clean facilities for guests.” The contest’s ten finalists were selected based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality, and unique design elements. The New Museum is the only cultural institution nominated for the prize. Other finalists include two airports (LaGuardia Airport Terminal B and Sea-Tac Airport North Satellite Terminal), the Nashville Zoo, the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, a hotel, a brewery, and two restaurants (see the full list here). “These finalists understand the importance of ensuring patrons leave the restroom with a positive, lasting impression,” Cintas said in a statement.

Hotly hued orange tiles

The New Museum’s current building Bowery Street, designed by the Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, was inaugurated in December 2007. For the restrooms, the architects selected a super–graphic pattern of pixilated cherry blossoms set against hotly hued fields of orange and turquoise. Those patterns, the New Museum’s website says, are the only intensely colored feature in the building apart from the glowing green elevator cab interiors.

Last year, the title of America’s Best Restroom went to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida. It’s restroom received the highest number of votes for featuring tarpon, otter, osprey, and sea turtle sculptures that create an underwater wildlife illusion.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite restroom and share their experience through September 13. The winner will be inducted into the “America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame” and will receive $2,500 in facility services from Cintas to keep its award-winning washrooms up to par.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...

7 replies on “The New Museum’s Bathroom Nominated as “America’s Best Restroom””

  1. Last time I used it, the movement-sensing sinks wouldn’t turn on, so I had to jump in front of a sink the second someone was finished so their water stream was still going. 0 stars. Good art though.

  2. Wait. Something at LaGuardia is considered good? The last prize that misbegotten (if slowly improving) airport got was for “most creative swearing by passengers waiting an hour for a cab.”

  3. I think you should check out the 6 restrooms at the Kohler Museum in Cheybogan Wisconsin, each
    designed by a different artist.

  4. You should check out the bathrooms at the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center in Safety Harbor, Florida…..Creative Art, with recycled materials….. beautiful, eclectic ,colorful, gorgeous.
    The center is a wonderful place for concerts, open mics, classes, community events, children’s activities and more.!!!

  5. All that matters is whether women have enough stalls that we don’t have to form a line while men quickly enter, take care of business, and leave in less than half the time. Larger facilities for women = good design.

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