The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

This article refers to the Guggenheim Museum in the upper east side of Manhattan (New York). There are a number of other Guggenheim Museums.

Founded in 1937, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a modern art museum located on the Upper East Side in New York City. It is the best-known of several museums founded by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and is often called simply "the Guggenheim".

Originally called "The Museum of Non-Objective Painting", the Guggenheim was founded to showcase avant-garde art by high modernists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. It moved to its present location, at the corners of 89th Street and Fifth Avenue (overlooking Central Park), in 1959, when Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the site was completed.

The distinctive building itself became the best-known work of art. From the street, the building looks approximately like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, slightly wider at the top than the bottom. 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.

In 1992, the building was supplemented by an adjoining rectangular tower, taller than the original spiral. This augmentation of Wright's original design---widely regarded as a classic of American architecture ---was controversial. The building's white color, and the relative proportions of the boxy, rectangular tower and the squat, cylindrical rotunda, led some observers to remark that the new ensemble resembled a toilet bowl.

Lloyd Wright's building has proved to be unpopular with some art critics, who feel the building overshadows the artworks displayed within, and that it is particularly difficult to properly hang paintings in the shallow windowless exhibition niches which surround the central spiral. Although the atrium 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 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.

External link

  • Official website

Last updated: 02-16-2005 08:55:04
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55