On this day, in 1959, people saw the opening of what is today one of the world’s top collections of contemporary art- The Guggenheim Museum. Located on the New York City’s Fifth Avenue, the bizarrely shaped white cultured building collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art. “With its constellation of architecturally and culturally distinct museums, exhibitions, publications, and digital platforms, the foundation engages both local and global audiences,” the museum’s official page explains.
The museum is the brainchild of mining tycoon Solomon R. Guggenheim who first started collecting artwork post his retirement in the 1930s. With the help of Hilla Rebay, a German baroness and artist, Guggenheim displayed his purchases for the first time in 1939 in a former car showroom in New York. The collection was extraordinaire and included works by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall.
Guggenheim Museum opened on Oct 21
“The need for a permanent building to house Guggenheim’s art collection became evident in the early 1940s, and in 1943 renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright gained the commission to design a museum in New York City. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened on October 21, 1959,” the text on the museum’s page read.
As per History.com, Wright died just six months before the museum was thrown open for public. But during the 16 years of its construction, the architect had poured his life in making the “temple of spirit”. The museum, that is visited by thousands every day, is an artwork in itself.
Just at the entrance is a long ramp spiraled upwards for a total of a quarter-mile around a large central rotunda, which is in turn, topped by a domed glass ceiling. The building also reflected upon Wright’s love of nature as it is modeled upon the structure of a seashell.