The Guggenheim Museum is New York’s second most important museum of 19th- and 20th-century art, after MoMA. But it is probably the Guggenheim Museum that is the most progressive museum in the Big Apple. Located in Manhattan, within New York’s world-famous Museum Mile, on Fifth Avenue, between 88th and 89th Streets, the museum building itself is a true architectural work of art, the work of renowned American architect and innovator Frank Lloyd Wright.
Initially, only becoming interested in the fine arts, Guggenheim was interested in the works of classical painters. The first visitors to his “museum” were guests of his apartment in the Plaza Hotel
The Guggenheim Museum, having been established in the mid-thirties, is a rather young museum even for the New World. The founder, as its name suggests, is Solomon Robert Guggenheim, an American coal magnate and owner of gold mines, who became interested in buying objects of fine art at a rather advanced age. Not being a great expert in this field, he enlisted the help of his old acquaintance, the European specialist Hazilla Ribay.
At that time, there was no question of a separate building to house the works of modern avant-garde artists acquired by the Guggenheim, and the acquired paintings were placed in the mansion of the newly-appointed collector.
But, six years after the beginning of the formation of the collection, it became clear that there was not enough space to house the works and Guggenheim purchased a more suitable at that time visit to the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. The collection moved to the new building, thus forming the city’s second museum of modern art.
During the remaining five years, the collection expanded so much that even the new building was not enough to display it. Then, in 1943, Guggenheim met with Frank Wright, one of the most progressive architects in the United States, and asked him to design the museum building.
A year later, an absolutely stunning architectural project was proposed to and agreed upon by the client. The project of a futuristic museum complex in the form of an inverted circular pyramid was out of the ordinary, because nothing like it had not been built in the world until then, but at the same time due to its non-standard forms the project was quite difficult to realize. The construction of the building continued until the end of the 50s, by which time, unfortunately, neither Guggenheim nor the author of the building project were alive.
When it opened in its new location, the Guggenheim Museum amazed the citizens with its architecture, which was long ahead of its time, as well as with the richest collection of works by modern masters of the last century – Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, Kandinsky – such a collection was not inferior even to the MoMA Museum. Nowadays, the Guggenheim Museum has one of the most valuable collections of works by artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and counts about seven thousand canvases.
While the main collection of the museum is located in the rectangular part of the building, the main, round, pyramidal museum building is reserved for temporary, changing exhibitions. When visiting, the museum’s collection should be viewed from the topmost floor, spiraling downward.
It is here, within the famous “snail” that the Guggenheim Museum held its world-famous temporary exhibitions such as “China – Five Millennia”, “The Art of Africa”, and “The Aztec Empire”.