Museum in New York City housing the Solomon R. Guggenheim collection of modern art. An example of the “organic architecture” of Frank Lloyd Wright, the building (constructed 1956–59) represents a radical departure from traditional museum design, spiraling upward and outward in a smooth coil of massive, unadorned white concrete. The exhibition space, which has been criticized for upstaging the artwork displayed, consists of a six-story-high spiral ramp encircling an open centre volume lighted by a dome of glass supported by stainless steel. The museum has a comprehensive collection of European painting from throughout the 20th century and of American painting from the second half of the century.
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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, founded in 1937, is is one of the best-known museums in New York City and one of the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright it is home to a renowned permanent collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art, and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. Located on the Upper East Side in New York City it is the first museum opened by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and is often called simply The Guggenheim. The Museum, which will celebrate its 50th year anniversary beginning in 2009, recently underwent an extensive, three year renovation. In September, 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation confirmed the appointment of Richard Armstrong as its fifth director, effective November 4, 2008. He succeeds Thomas Krens who served as Director from 1998.
Guided by his art adviser, the German painter Hilla Rebay, Solomon Guggenheim began to collect works by non-objective artists in 1929. (For Rebay, the word "non-objective" signified the spiritual dimensions of pure abstraction.) At first, Guggenheim showed his work from his apartment and then, as the collection grew, established The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the "promotion and encouragement and education in art and the enlightenment of the public." Chartered by the Board of Regents of New York State, the Foundation was endowed to operate one or more museums; Solomon Guggenheim was elected its first President and Rebay its Curator.
The first Guggenheim Museum, called "The Museum of Non-Objective Painting", opened in 1939 in rented quarters at 24 East Fifty-Fourth Street in New York and showcased art by early modernists such as Rudolf Bauer, Hilla Rebay, Wassily Kandinsky, and Piet Mondrian. Guggenheim continued to add to his collection, acquiring paintings by Marc Chagall, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Leger, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso and the collection quickly outgrew its original space. So, in 1943, Rebay and Guggenheim commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a permanent structure for the collection. It took Wright 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings to create the museum that now stands at its present location, at the corners of 89th Street and Fifth Avenue (overlooking Central Park). The building opened in the fall of 1959, ten years after the death of Solomon Guggenheim and six months after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright.
The distinctive building, Wright's last major work, instantly polarized architecture critics upon completion, though today it is widely revered. From the street, the building looks approximately like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, slightly wider at the top than the bottom. Its appearance is in sharp contrast to the more typically boxy Manhattan buildings that surround it, a fact relished by Wright who claimed that his museum would make the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art "look like a Protestant barn."
Internally, the viewing gallery forms a gentle spiral from the ground level up to the top of the building. Paintings are displayed along the walls of the spiral and also in viewing rooms found at stages along the way.
Most of the criticism of the building has focused on the idea that it overshadows the artworks displayed within, and that it is particularly difficult to properly hang paintings in the shallow windowless exhibition niches that surround the central spiral. Although the rotunda is generously lit by a large skylight, the niches are heavily shadowed by the walkway itself, leaving the art to be lit largely by artificial light. The walls of the niches are neither vertical nor flat (most are gently concave), meaning that canvasses must be mounted proud of the wall's surface. The limited space within the niches means that sculptures are generally relegated to plinths amid the main spiral walkway itself. Prior to its opening, twenty-one artists, including Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, signed a letter protesting the display of their work in such a space.
In 1992, the building was supplemented by an adjoining rectangular tower, taller than the original spiral, designed by the architectural firm of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. By that point, the building had become iconic enough that this augmentation of Wright's original design was itself controversial.
In October 2005, Lisa Dennison, a longtime Guggenheim curator, was appointed director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Dennison resigned in July 2007 to work at the auction house Sotheby's.
From October 2005 to February 2008, Thomas Krens remained director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, having won a decisive victory over billionaire philanthropist and board member Peter Lewis. A significant contributor to the Guggenheim Foundation, Lewis resigned in 2005 in a dispute with the board over the direction and leadership of the Foundation. Despite this, Krens and Lewis nevertheless continue to agree in describing the building itself as "the most important piece of art in the collection.
In February 2008, Krens stepped down as the Director of the Guggenheim Foundation, but remains an advisor to the Guggenheim's international expansion projects. The search for a new Director, who will head both the New York museum and the Foundation was recently completed with the Board's appointment of Richard Armstrong––who had been director of the Carnegie Museum of Artin Pittsburgh––as its fifth director.
In the first phase of this project, a team of restoration architects, structural engineers, and architectural conservators worked together to create a comprehensive assessment of the building's current condition that determined that the structure was, fundamentally sound. This initial condition assessment included:
Much of the interior of the building was restored during the 1992 renovation and addition by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects. The 2005-2008 restoration primarily addresses the exterior of the original building and the infrastructure. This includes the skylights, windows, doors, concrete and gunite facades and exterior sidewalk, as well as the climate-control. The goal will be to preserve as much significant historical fabric of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as possible, while accomplishing necessary repairs and attaining a suitable environment for the building’s continuing use as a museum.
On September 22, 2008, friends and supporters of the Guggenheim gathered in New York to mark the completion of the 3-year renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Museum. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg officiated at the celebration that culminated, just after sunset, with the premiere of artist Jenny Holzer’s tribute For the Guggenheim, a work commissioned in honor of Peter B. Lewis, who was a major benefactor in the Museum restoration project. Other supporters of the $29 million dollar restoration included the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York. Additional support was provided by the State of New York and MAPEI Corporation.
Stolen Goya painting returns to Guggenheim.(museum MATTERS)(Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, "Children with a Cart" (1778))(Brief article)
Apr 01, 2007; NEW YORK -- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum unveiled Goya's newly returned "Children with a Cart" (1778) during a special...