The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, located on the Upper East Side of New York City, is one of six important art museums throughout the world run by the Guggenheim Foundation. (Other locations include Barcelona, St. Petersburg Russia, and Las Vegas.) Begun in 1937, with Mr. Guggenheim's personal collection as its core, the museum continues to showcase a wide variety of modern art.
The Guggenheim Museum's building is as impressive as the museum's collection and has become a New York icon. Finding the right building to showcase his collection was a challenge for Solomon Guggenheim. After several years of deliberation, he chose world-famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright to design the building. Wright, a proponent of nature in architecture, was hestitant to design a building in New York City, but agreed when the location across from Central park was chosen.
The resulting building, begun in 1943, is based on an ancient Babylonian inverted ziggurat (a step pyramid temple with a continuous ramp) design. The interior of the museum was fashioned after a nautilus shell, and features a sleek white lobby with a ramp leading from the top of the museum.
The building was quite controversial when it opened in 1959. Opponents thought the modern building too avante garde for the traditional and conservative Upper East Side. Art enthusiasts were concerned that the building's unique form would overshadow the museum's art collection. Ironically, neither Frank Lloyd Wright nor Solomon Guggenheim lived to see the building completed.
The Guggenheim Museum Collection
The museum's permanent collection features work from most every well-known artist from the late 19th century to the present. In fact, the collection is noted by art enthusiasts for its diversity. Featured artists include modern masters, such as Mark Rothko, Jean Miro, Jackson Pollock, and Marcel Duchamp; Impressionists, including Edgar Degar, Paul Cezanne, and Camille Pissaro; and Post-Impressionsts Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Georges-Pierre Seurat. Noteworthy are the museum's holdings of Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky. Mr. Guggenheim was an early collector of both mens' work.
The museum also hosts a full schedule of temporary exhibits, designed to augment the permanent collection. Recent shows have included Mondrian to Ryman: the Abstract Impulse and Watercolors by Kandinsky. Admission to the temporary exhibits is included in the regular admission price.
Visting the Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum is easily reached from all over New York City via subway, bus, or taxi. The museum is open six days a week (it is closed on Thursdays) expect for December 25. It is open from 10am to 545pm Saturday through Wednesday and from 10am to 745pm on Fridays. Admission discounts are offered for students and seniors, and museum members and children under 12 are admitted free.
The museum has a cheerful cafe on the ground floor, which serves sandwiches, salads, pizza, and other snacks. The museum's gift shop, also on the lobby level, features a fascinating array of jewelry, posters, art prints, note cards, and books.
For art lovers, the Guggenheim Museum is a site not to be missed. The spectactular architecture and the comphrensive collection are impressive, indeed.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128