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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, at 1071 Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim houses a comprehensive collection of European and American conceptual and abstract art from throughout the 20th century.

The Guggenheim's holdings began with the private collection of mining magnate Solomon R. Guggenheim, who began collecting art in 1928, after a visit to Wassily Kandinsky's studio in Dessau, Germany. Guggenheim dedicated the better part of his latter life to expanding his collection, in collaboration with the German avant-garde artist Hilla Rebay. Works collected during this period still serve as the core of the museum's contemporary collection.

Guggenheim originally exhibited his collection in his apartment, then moved it to a former automobile showroom at 24 East 54th Street, where it became the core of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. By 1943 the collection had begun to outgrow its building, and Guggenheim commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design and build a permanent home for his collection; Wright was chosen by Rebay, who was then serving as curator of the museum. Construction of the current Guggenheim Museum began in 1956, and was completed in 1959. The museum's grand opening, on October 21, 1959, was attended by some 16,000 people.

exterior of the Guggenheim Musem

Looking somewhat like a ribbon coiling upward from street level, the museum's exhibition space consists of a six-story-high spiral ramp encircling an open center volume that is lighted by a dome of glass supported by stainless steel. The exterior is made of gunite, a mixture of sand and cement that was sprayed on the inside of a wood and steel frame that was later removed. The building was named a landmark in 1990, becoming one of the youngest buildings ever to earn that distinction. A ten-story limestone addition was built in the rear of the original structure in 1992.

main exhibition space of The Guggenheim

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is operated by the non-profit Guggenheim Foundation. Other museums under the Guggenheim umbrella are: the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, which features objects ranging in style from cubism to surrealism to abstract expressionism accumulated by Solomon Guggenheim's niece; the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin; the Frank O. Gehry-designed Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; and the Guggenheim Las Vegas, which is home to multimedia and high-technology art.

The Guggenheim website is

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The Robinson Library >> Fine Arts >> Art Museums, Galleries, Etc.

This page was last updated on 10/21/2017.