Fun Facts about The Guggenheim

In our last post, I shared my adventure touring NYC’s iconic Guggenheim Museum.

Today, I wanted to share fun facts about this AMAZING museum in the heart of Manhattan.

  • The Guggenheim Museum in NYC is the restult of the art-collecting activities of American mining heir and businessman, Solomon R. Guggenheim.
  • Run by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, it is one of several Guggenheim museums in the world (others include Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim started collecting abstract art in the 1920s…He started the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to promote the arts.
    • In 1939 he founded the Museum of Non-Objective Painting to display his collection in New York City. This would eventually morph into the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that we know and love today.
  • The first exhibit in 1939 featured works by Vasily Kandinsky, Rudolf Bauer, Alice Mason and more!
  • By the 1940s, The Museum of Non-Objective Painting needed a permanent home. In 1943 Guggenheim contracted with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the museum’s permanent building.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright made 700 sketches and six separate sets of working drawings for the building early in the project, but it took until 1959 for the museum’s completion due to World War II, postwar inflation, and Mr. Guggenheim’s death
    • Construction began in 1956
  • Wright originally wanted to name the museum – ‘Archeseum,’ which means to see from the highest.
  • The design originally included a glass elevator
  • Located off Fifth Avenue on ‘The Museum Mile,’ on the Upper East Side. Other Museums on Fifth Avenue include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie and The Frick
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s museum design of an ziggurrat that many labeled ‘a cream oatmeal dish’ caused immense controversy as it differs so starkly from the neighborhoods mid-rises and historic beaux arts buildings. However, Wright’s design actually fits the space perfectly and does not cause the upheaval or architectural disruption you’d expect. The building fits the lot and stands out without sticking out
  • The architecture is practical and innovative. The interior ramp is provides easy access to each floor and offers stunning open viewing of the art from multiple angles.

  • In the spirit of Rome’s Pantheon, The Guggenheim’s oculus floods the building with light. The Skylight is over 90 feet above the rotunda floor, and spans 58 feet.
    • The domed window is made up of twelve sections; they rest on concrete structural supports that extend down through the building as web walls along the perimeter of the curved building. There are a total of 169 sections of glass in the skylight, 14 for each “pie slice” and one polygonal cap where they all come together. Learn more here.
  • The seal on the rotunda floor has a quote by Greek playwright Aristophanes (422 BC): “Let each man exercise the art he knows.”
  • Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at The Plaza Hotel during construction. While at The Plaza he redecorated their lobby.
  • The Museum opened on October 21st, 1959
    • six months after Frank Lloyd Wright’s death at 91 years old
  • Opening Day: 3000 people waiting in line to see the museum. Tickets were fifty cents!
  • The walk up ramp is 1416 feet and over a 1/4 mile long
  • The museum has 700 tons of steel and 7,000 cubic feet of poured concrete

All about the ART:

While the architecture of The Guggenheim is a star, nothing rivals the amazing permanent collection and special exhibits inside.

The Guggenheim is a feast for art lovers – especially Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism and other movements in the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries.

Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

Picasso is heavily featured at the museum
Van Gogh – learn more
Degas at The Guggenheim features this wonderful dancer painting as well as several sculpures. click here to learn more

Plan your own Guggenheim advenure here…

Pro Tip: Can’t fly to NYC to see the museum in person? No worries, their website has great resources for a ‘virtual art vacation.’

Don’t forget to subscribe and comment below!!! Appreciate your time in reading American Nomad!

Purpose of American Nomad: To share my love of travel, history and museums with others. Follow American Nomad on facebook here.

About: American Nomad is written by Adele Lassiter, a travel enthusiast with a background in history, art and technology sales. In addition to running American Nomad, Adele is an artist and published author of cozy romances. Check out her cozy romance novel, Solitude Lake on Amazon (Adele Darcy)

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