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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
art museum in New York City
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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
art museum in New York City

1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York
United States

Contributor

As it usually does, the Guggenheim all started with a good ol’ fashion love triangle.

The very married Solomon R. Guggenheim was in love with the curator and German baroness Hildegard Anna Augusta Elizabeth Freiin Rebay von Ehrenwiesen (aka Hilla von Rebay). Their relationship, though never outwardly explained as intimate, was 100% intimate. One of the Guggenheim grandchildren put it best, “She was one of my grandfather's confidants -- and that's a wide field." She called him “Guggi” (barf) and he claimed financial responsibility for her love of art. Her taste was pretty impeccable though and so the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was born. Too bad, the Guggenheim family hated Hilla (she could be a bit betchy and was def sleeping with their dad/husband/uncle). Despite her thorough involvement with the building of the current museum, after the death of Solomon, the GuggenheimsTM made sure she never stepped foot in the building and expelled her from the board of directors.

The zygote of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was Solomon’s exhibit in his Plaza Hotel room. In 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was founded and they began to rent a space in midtown Manhattan to display the work, where Robert De Niro’s father was a security guard. But soon there wouldn’t be enough space for their now giant collection. So Solomon and Hilla sat down and wrote a letter to the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright asking him to design a building for their modern art museum, which he accepted. 15 years and 700 sketches later, they had a plan. And in 1959, 10 years after the death of Solomon and only six months after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum opened its doors for the first time.

The museum’s design was definitely the most outlandish the world had ever seen. They called it an inverted cupcake, a giant Jell-O mold, a washing machine, “New York’s Strangest Building,” a “temple of the spirit” and an “inverted ziggurat.” In 2008, the building was named a National Historic Landmark (rightfully so). This of course caused the manufacturing of ridiculous Guggenheim-related merchandize. For example, in the case that you want to brainwash your children into being an architect, you can buy a Guggenheim Lego set. Or if you want to wear rubble around your neck, you can wear “Restoration Rocks,” jewelry made from the leftover pieces of the renovation of the museum. You would think that the Guggenheims, one of the old money families of America, could do better than debris jewels, but who are we to judge?

Sr. Editor

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright who described it as a “temple of the spirit.” 

Inside there are no rooms, just a single ramp that spirals up the sides of the cylindrical building.  I always imagine how fun it would be if they turned it into a waterslide. Future installation art project, perhaps?

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, the artist Hilla von Rebay. It adopted its current name after the death of its founder, Solomon R. Guggenheim, in 1952.

In 1959, the museum moved from rented space to its current building, a landmark work of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, was conceived as a "temple of the spirit". Its unique ramp gallery extends up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling skylight. The building underwent extensive expansion and renovations in 1992 (when an adjoining tower was built) and from 2005 to 2008.

The museum's collection has grown organically, over eight decades, and is founded upon several important private collections, beginning with Solomon R. Guggenheim's original collection. The collection is shared with the museum's sister museums in Bilbao, Spain, and elsewhere. In 2013, nearly 1.2 million people visited the museum, and it hosted the most popular exhibition in New York City.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.