Discover the Artistic Marvel: A Guide to the Iconic Guggenheim Museum
A magnificent work of art in and of itself, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most iconic institutions in New York City. Designed by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1959, the museum houses a major collection of Impressionist, modern, and contemporary masterpieces by such artists as Paul Cézanne, Jackson Pollock, and Roy Lichtenstein.
The unusual, bowl-shaped museum is located on Fifth Avenue, between 88th and 89th Streets on the Upper East Side. It’s a brief seven-minute drive and 27-minute walk from The Lucerne Hotel, through the beautiful Central Park. The building itself is both organic and architectural, combining geometric motifs like squares, circles, and triangles, with an overall sense of symmetry and nature.
Inside the Guggenheim are displays of selections from their permanent collection, which is made up of more than 8,000 innovative, inspiring, and world-renowned works; the museum is also known for its rotating special exhibitions, which highlight the contemporary artists making waves in our time.
Continue reading to learn more about the Guggenheim, from its history to its collection to how you can visit it today.
History of the Guggenheim
In the 1920s, Solomon Guggenheim, one of the heirs to an American mining fortune, began collecting abstract art thanks to the influence of artist Hilla von Rebay. Before then, he had focused on works by the European masters that he had been acquiring since the 1890s; this inclusion of abstract art, though, was what would eventually lead to the renown of his collection.
In 1937, Guggenheim established a foundation to exhibit his art collection and foster an appreciation for modern art in society. In 1943, after a series of displays and the growth of his collection, he asked Frank Lloyd Wright, then 76, to design a structure for his collection. Wright’s designs were approved in 1944, and the museum opened more than a decade later, in 1959. It was Wright’s last major project — he died the same year it opened — and it is now one of his most well-known designs.
The Guggenheim Collection
A good portion of the current Guggenheim permanent collection began as private collections, such as the one curated by Solomon Guggenheim himself. Over the years, the museum has also acquired the private collections of German art dealer Karl Neirendorf, Italian collector Giuseppe Panza, and many more. Nowadays, the Guggenheim in New York City shares its collection with its partner museums in Venice, Italy, and Bilbao, Spain.
The collection’s focus is on the late 19th century through today. It includes a comprehensive range of European works from the 20th century, American works from the second half of the 20th century to today, as well as core modern and contemporary art holdings. It is home to the world’s largest repository of Wassily Kandinsky paintings — one of the first artists to embrace pure abstraction — as well as significant Cubist, Surrealist, and Expressionist collections.
Some notable works in the possession of the Guggenheim are Paul Cézanne’s Man With Crossed Arms, Paul Klee’s Red Balloon, Pablo Picasso’s Woman With Yellow Hair, and Jackson Pollock’s Enchanted Forest.
The Guggenheim’s permanent exhibit is the Thannhauser Collection, a 1963 gift to the museum from Justin Thannhauser. His eponymous collection includes works by Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, and Picasso; though on the smaller side, it is the only collection always on show.
In addition to prominent artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Guggenheim also focuses on showcasing modern artists. Throughout the year, the museum rotates through new exhibitions, which usually last about a few months to half a year. Opening at the Guggenheim this spring are Gego: Measuring Infinity, a sculptural investigation of time and space by Gertrud Goldschmidt, known as Gego, and Sarah Sze: Timelapse, which focuses on the encroaching of the digital and material world on our lives.
Read more about past and future special exhibits at the Guggenheim here.
Whether you are a devoted fan of art or not, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City is worth a visit for its cultural and historical significance — and even for its famed architecture. It is open from 11 am to 6 pm Sundays through Fridays, and it stays open until 8 pm on Saturdays. The museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission on Saturdays from 6 pm to 8 pm, to encourage an equal appreciation of the arts.
Adult tickets are $25 and tickets for children under 12 are free. You can reserve tickets here; timed ticket entry is recommended. The Guggenheim offers visitors these resources for visits, which include brochures and maps, a digital guide — featuring audio for each exhibit — and an overview of family activities in the museum.
No matter what you choose to see inside the museum, it will offer you an unforgettable combination of art and architecture, sure to make your trip to New York City even better.
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