Opening Day of Guggenheim Museum in New York – 10/21/1959

US History |

On October 21, 1959, one of New York’s museum was visited by thousands of people during its opening day. People were excited to see the Guggenheim Museum for the first time for two reasons – in here resides some of the most prized art collections during that time as well as the fact that the building itself was considered an art by itself with its unusual shape that’s reminiscent of an upside-down cupcake.

Tycoon Solomon R. Guggenheim who hails from a wealthy family developed a penchant for collecting art at the time of his retirement during the 1930s. He met the German baroness and artist Hilla Rebay in 1926 who influenced him to collect European avant-garde art. With her prodding and help, Guggenheim came up with the idea of displaying his art collection in a former car showroom in New York in year 1939. His desire for collecting art grew stronger to a point that he was able to have a vast collection that eventually made the showroom seem tiny. He bought art which were made by the likes of Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall. In 1943, he made a decision to contact Frank Lloyd Wright because he wanted him to design a museum for his growing art collection. He explained to the architect that this museum will be unlike any other. His vision was that people would see this as a “temple of spirit” where they would come to see art in a different light.

Wright worked hard to bring Guggenheim’s vision to life. He came up with several ideas but chose to create a building that would resemble a nautilus shell. People waited for 16 years before they could get to enter the museum in question. Sadly for Wright, he died six months before its opening and he never saw the crowd that came to admire his work.

Guggenheim Museum features a dome shape glass ceiling. This has a ramp that spirals upwards, which leads visitors to the skylight above. It looks like a giant shell that opens fluidly from one opening to the next. According to Wright, the museum was inspired by his love for nature. The critics were divided about the museum’s design. Some said that this was not really made with the subject of art in mind but was rather more about Frank Lloyd Wright. Others on other hand think that the architect was able to achieve Guggenheim’s vision which was to see to it that the building would be considered an art by itself, but at the same time, will also create a beautiful fusion together with the art that will be housed in it.

Since its opening, the Guggenheim made its mark in the world or art, becoming one of the city’s most popular attractions right in New York’s highly distinguished stretch of Museum Mile in Central Park. The museum was renovated in 1993 to make the space wider, fit for exhibitions. Until this day, it continues to attract wonder and weird comparisons just like it did when it was first opened to the public in 1959. More than 900,000 visitors come to visit the Guggenheim museum every single year. 

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