The living room of Damien Hirst’s ‘Empathy Suite’ at the Palms Casino (image courtesy the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas)

Yesterday, TIME magazine released its second annual list of the “World’s Greatest Places,” which includes some highly questionable selections from the art world like the Shed at Hudson Yards and Damien Hirst’s Empathy Suite at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

“How does one measure the greatness of a place — in miles covered, dollars spent, or visitors captivated?” asks the editorial in language seemingly scrapped from the musical RENT. “Such metrics can play a part, but also important is something that many travels aspire to experience the sense that one has stumbled upon the extraordinary.”

Hirst’s “Game Room” features an original formaldehyde work (seen on the right) titled “Winner/Loser” (2018).

But travelers visiting the Shed may also stumble upon the broken, frequently out-of-service escalators. And those wealthy enough to afford Hirst’s Empathy Suite, which rents for $100,000 per night, would find something less captivating than vaingloriously gauche: rooms pockmarked with pills and diamonds.

According to TIME, the list began with nominations from staff members, writers, and “industry professionals” before the 96-year-old publication winnowed their options down to a variety of locations based on factors like “quality, originality, sustainability, innovation, and influence.”

The Shed is one of the newest inclusions of the magazine’s “Greatest Places” list and arguably its most controversial choice. When it opened in April, the cultural complex received tepid reviews for its condom-like design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro; some visitors have also documented how parts of the $550 million building are already crumbling. And over the last four months, the facility’s artistic output has increasingly received critical pans and outright denouncements for its lack of quality. Anger against the institution is partially inspired by the larger Hudson Yards complex, a $25 billion development on Manhattan’s Far West Side that received billions in tax breaks, including money meant to serve the city’s poorer areas. TIME does include some text on the ongoing scandal surrounding Stephen Ross, the Hudson Yard developer who sits on the museum’s board of directors. Recently, Fashion Week participants announced a boycott of the venue because of Ross’s fundraising efforts for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. While calling the neighborhood “a symbol of wealth inequality,” the magazine perplexingly describes the Shed as “an olive branch” to New Yorkers angry with the Hudson Yards development.

Another strange addition to the TIME list is the Newseum in Washington DC, which has announced its closure by year’s end after opening 11 years ago. “Some places you see because they’re new,” eulogizes the magazine, “others you visit before they’re gone.” After selling its multimillion-dollar location to Johns Hopkins University in January, the Newseum said that it hoped to find a new location somewhere more financially suitable than its current address.

Not every cultural inclusion on the “Greatest Places” collection was a miss. The magazine also honored Senegal’s Museum of Black Civilizations, Scotland’s V&A Dundee, Turkey’s Troy Museum, and Japan’s Mori Building Digital Art Museum. TIME even included a museum that won’t open for another few months. Come October, architect David Adjaye will unveil San Antonio’s new cultural institution devoted to the late Linda Pace’s art collection in what the magazine describes as a “glittering crimson museum.” Entrance to the galleries will be free to the public and will include artists like Alejandro Diaz and Do Ho Suh.

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Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

One reply on “TIME Magazine’s “Greatest Places” List Has Some Questionable Culture Picks”

  1. This complain-y, nothing-is-ever-good-enough-for-me article is really frustrating to see/read over and over and over and over again. We get it; you HATE successful artists. Next!

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