Behind the Lens: The Government Office That Feels Like a Modern Art Museum

Photos and musings from our photographer.
by | May 2019
People walking through a museum with paintings on the walls.
(David Kidd)

One of the greatest public collections of modern American art is owned by the state of New York. The pieces, by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, aren’t in a museum or hanging in the governor’s mansion.

They are placed in and around the Empire State Plaza, a complex of buildings that houses the 15,000 state employees who work at the capitol in Albany.

The artworks with the highest visibility are those on display in the quarter-mile-long underground concourse that connects the buildings. The collection comprises works from the 1960s and ’70s by artists who lived and worked in New York; it was the idea of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, an avid art collector.

“New York is the center of the contemporary movement in the international art world,” he said. “These great artists should be represented in the state complex.”

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David Kidd | Design Director | dkidd@governing.com