Bizzy the Beaver

Creating Wearable Art with the Whitney Museum of American Art

Bizzy the Beaver

Kayla Zemsky, Senior Coordinator of Major Gifts at the Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art has been a prominent institution in the New York City art scene since it opened in 1931. Focusing on American artwork of the the 20th and 21st centuries, the Whitney had a new focus in 2015– moving to a new home for the first time in 84 years. When they first began welcoming visitors to their new space in the West Village, the Whitney wanted to make sure that their "Grand Opening" earned the title. That's when they called the Beavers.

Kayla Zemsky, the Whitney's Senior Coordinator of Major Gifts, wanted a way to commemorate the museum's opening while thanking its visitors for their support of the arts. She and Busy Beaver agreed, what better way to do that than with buttons? "These buttons were particularly meaningful because they were designed by the artist Lawrence Weiner, based on a work of his in our permanent collection– and they included the date we opened our doors to the public," says Zemsky, who couldn't be happier with their impact. "They were the perfect little take-away for visitors to our new home, and a fun way to mark a special moment."

The buttons were the perfect little take-away for visitors Kayla Zemsky, The Whitney Museum of American Art

A famous museum opening a brand new home in the heart of downtown Manhattan is no small feat, and neither were the Whitney's promotions. The museum commissioned Busy Beaver to create a total of 65,000 Grand Opening buttons– buttons that got almost as much attention as the museum itself. "They were part of every opening event we had and we shared them with visitors for months after we opened," Zemsky says. "It was very exciting to see people wearing them on the streets and enjoying sharing them." And while 65,000 might sound like a lot of buttons, Zemsky mentions what impressed her the most about Busy Beaver was their ability to not break a sweat. "They were very accommodating with our deadline and quick turnarounds – and the huge quantity we ordered!"

As for the Beavers, they're just happy that the Whitney– and its 65,000 visitors– are enjoying its new home.

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