The Venetian Room is located within the former Payne Whitney Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Designed by Stanford White and completed posthumously in 1909, the building received landmark designation from the City of New York in 1970. It was acquired by the French Government and is now home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
White designed the ornate reception room, dubbed the “Venetian Room” by Helen Hay Whitney, in 1906, shortly before he was murdered. After Mrs. Whitney’s death in 1949, the room was dismantled and stored at the Whitney estate on Long Island. It remained there until 1997, when Mrs. John Hay Whitney donated it to the French American Foundation, which underwrote its reinstallation in the house.
Conservation measures undertaken following pollution damage
Twenty years after its re-installation, the room was in need of extensive conservation, primarily because of air-borne pollution entering the building through the lobby. French Cultural Services undertook a $250,000 campaign for the stabilization and restoration of the room. Thanks to the generous gift of The Selz Foundation, World Monuments Fund contributed an additional $100,000 in support of the campaign.
WMF was part of the Scientific Committee organized by French Cultural Services to oversee the execution of the work, which commenced in January 2018, following nearly a year of research and examination of the materials and finishes of the room. The conservation was carried out by Atelier De Ricou, a restoration group based in Paris, France. In addition to the conservation of the room, the work included the design and construction of a new glass vestibule at the main lobby entrance to mitigate the effects of air-borne pollution going forward. The Venetian Room was re-dedicated on May 31, 2018.