in New York City
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
In 1959, on
New York City’s Fifth Avenue, thousands of people lined up outside a bizarrely
shaped white concrete building that resembled a giant upside-down cupcake. It
was opening day at the new Guggenheim Museum, home to one of the world’s top
collections of contemporary art.
Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting art seriously when he retired in the
1930s. With the help of Hilla Rebay, a German baroness and artist, Guggenheim
displayed his purchases for the first time in 1939 in a former car showroom in
New York. Within a few years, the collection—including works by Vasily
Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall—had outgrown the small space. In 1943,
Rebay contacted architect Frank Lloyd Wright and asked him to take on the work
of designing not just a museum, but a “temple of spirit,” where people would
learn to see art in a new way.
Over the next 16 years, until his death six
months before the museum opened, Wright worked to bring his unique vision to
life. To Wright’s fans, the museum that opened on October 21, 1959, was a work
of art in itself. Inside, a long ramp spiraled upwards for a total of a
quarter-mile around a large central rotunda, topped by a domed glass ceiling.
Reflecting Wright’s love of nature, the 50,000-meter space resembled a giant
seashell, with each room opening fluidly into the next.
groundbreaking design drew criticism as well as admiration. Some felt the
oddly-shaped building didn’t complement the artwork. They complained the museum
was less about art and more about Frank Lloyd Wright. On the flip side, many
others thought the architect had achieved his goal: a museum where building and
art work together to create “an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony.”
Located on New
York’s impressive Museum Mile, at the edge of Central Park, the Guggenheim has
become one of the city’s most popular attractions. In 1993, the original
building was renovated and expanded to create even more exhibition space.
Today, Wright’s creation continues to inspire awe, as well as odd comparisons—a
Jello mold! a washing machine! a pile of twisted ribbon!—for many of the
900,000-plus visitors who visit the Guggenheim each year.
Clancy's comment: I've not been there, but I'm sure it's worth a visit.