Monday, March 26, 2012

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

We went to 11 museums: from the Dia Art Foundation located in Beacon in upstate New York to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which we were fortunate enough to be there to see their Biennial. But my favorite museum in New York City remains to be the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

A little history:

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim. It took Wright 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings to create the museum. On October 21, 1959, ten years after the death of Solomon Guggenheim and six months after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Museum first opened its doors to the general public. The building was the first permanent museum to be built rather than converted from a private house in the United States.

The current exhibitions at the museum ranged from John Chamberlain to Francesca Woodman to Kandinsky. I was least familiar with John Chamberlain’s work. Chamberlain used vintage cars; formerly junk, to create sculptures. The sculptures grew in scale and possessed a newfound gravity. He also created monumental aluminum sculptures, which I found out were based on works that fit in the palm of the hand, which he had been making since the mid-1980s. The retrospective celebrates the remarkable legacy of John Chamberlain.

Now going back to the design and orientation of the museum. This is really why the Guggenheim stands out to me in a city of amazing and unique museums; from the moment you see the structure itself, you are awe-struck. From the street, the building looks like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, wider at the top than the bottom. Its appearance is in sharp contrast to typically rectangular 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 helical spiral from the main level up to the top of the building.

This spiral serves not only for design purposes but also as a natural guide for visitors. It is one of the few museums I can honestly say that I have never been lost in. The design allows the viewer to easily interact with the work, without having to think where to walk or ask themselves, “Have I been in this room already?”

The Guggenheim, in my opinion, has overcome many of the design and flow issues I find in most museums in the United States. The only complaint I have is that they did not have more Kandinsky’s!


Fifty years after the realization of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned design, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrated the golden anniversary of its landmark building with the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009, the 50th anniversary exhibition brought together sixty-four projects designed by one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, including privately commissioned residences, civic and government buildings, religious and performance spaces, as well as unrealized urban mega-structures. Presented on the spiral ramps of Wright’s museum through a range of mediums—including more than 200 original Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, many of which are on view to the public for the first time, as well as newly commissioned models and digital animations—Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward illuminated Wright’s pioneering concepts of space and revealed the architect’s continuing relevance to contemporary design.


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