Guggenheim Museum

1071 Fifth Avenue New York


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The Guggenheim name has long been associated with modernity and celebrity. Some might even argue that its birth coincides with the rise in our culture of modern celebrity. When philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim founded his first museum in 1939, the “Museum of Non-Objective Painting” in a former car showroom on Manhattan’s East 54th Street, it took him only a few short years to realize that bringing in architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the museum’s permanent space would also usher in visitors, prestige, and attention to his impressive collection of early modern art.

After nearly two decades of planning and construction, controversy swirled at the Guggenheim’s 1959 opening. What was this new massive, conical structure, seemingly drilled like a giant white bolt into the ground just outside Central Park? It was organic yet cutting-edge, a shade below blinding white; and it was strangely spiritual—or so the architect said. Above all, it was undeniably wrapped in a tinge of Wright’s colorful celebrity. Sadly, he died shortly before the museum’s opening.

The now-iconic structure has become a monument to artistic innovation, and it testifies to a time when New York City was churning in artistic fervor and bursting with new design. Inside, the museum’s collection contains an impressive range of works from the Impressionist era and also continues to acquire contemporary pieces. (Still, many remark from both within and without the museum that the building itself is “the most important object in the museum’s collection,” as architectural critic Paul Goldberger noted in his tribute to the building’s fiftieth anniversary.)

Written by Indagare

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