Veteran art dealer Rachel Lehmann had something of an epiphany a few years ago when a curator visiting from Chicago apologized profusely for not having made it to the Chelsea gallery’s Lower East Side outpost during his visit.

“He was here for two days and there was so much to see in Chelsea,” recalls Lehmann. The takeaway? “Being less accessible in terms of location just adds another layer of complication. That’s another battle we didn’t want to fight. The critical mass is in Chelsea,” she says.

This realization was a crucial factor in Lehmann Maupin’s decision to leave the Lower East Side altogether after that building was sold, and essentially double down in the West Side neighborhood. Today, the gallery opens a stunning new 8,500-square-foot exhibition space spanning three floors in a building designed by Peter Marino adjacent to the High Line.

At a time when galleries are working hard to combat a precipitous fall in foot traffic, the location of brick-and-mortar spaces come with higher stakes than ever. Chelsea, which became a hub for galleries migrating from SoHo in the late 1990s, experienced a small exodus in recent years amid rampant construction and soaring rental prices. But now,  Lehmann Maupin is one of several major galleries ramping up operations in the area and committing to new, custom-built exhibition spaces. Read more