On this day in 1959 a giant upside down cupcake was opened as an art museum in New York City. A home to one of the world’s top collections of contemporary art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum boasts a ground breaking design by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. The Guggenheim is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, just east of Central Park on 5th Avenue and East 89th Street. It is the permanent home to an always expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. The museum also features special exhibits throughout the year. Solomon Guggenheim loved art and had been collecting works of the old masters since the 1890’s. In 1926 he hooked up with artist Hilla von Rebay who changed his collecting strategy, influencing him towards abstract art. She felt it revealed a spiritual, utopian aspect to art… and she was kinda cute. Rebay was the unsung driver in creating the museum and is worth reading more about: [For more on Hilla von Rebay click here]
In 1943 Guggenheim and Rebay wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright asking him to design a structure to house his growing collection of contemporary art. It took Wright 15 years and 700 sketches to create the museum.
The spiral design recalled a nautilus shell, with continuous spaces flowing freely one into another. Wright explained, “these geometric forms suggest certain human ideas, moods, sentiments – as for instance: the circle, infinity; the triangle, structural unity; the spiral, organic progress; the square, integrity.”
The museum opened October 21, 1959, ten years after the death of Guggenheim and six months after the death of Wright. Although the museum was highly criticized before and during its construction, the building became widely praised and has inspired architects and museum design since its opening. A few works in the Guggenheim collection: