New York’s Guggenheim Museum
Throughout my travels I constantly heard about the wonders contained within the Guggenheim Museums. These marvellous displays, I was told, would have me feeling right at home, so it is no word of a lie that I was extremely excited when I finally received the opportunity to visit the New York branch of the museum.
While the many exhibitions certainly held my attention for hours, as an architect I could not help but be drawn towards the building itself. New York’s Guggenheim is simply a marvel of architectural achievement and I can honestly say that I don’t feel as though I have ever seen anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.
Of course, I had to learn as much as I can about this wonderful building, so here I present to you my findings and my thoughts as they relate to the truly marvellous Guggenheim Museum of New York.
Though the museum was established way back in 1939, it was not until 1959 that the building itself really came into its own and the New York Guggenheim began developing its international reputation as one of the world’s leading art museums. Today, it has become a leading cultural center, in addition to an educational institution that offers the opportunity for people like myself to develop their crafts so they can become both better artists and better appreciators of the wonderful works the museum contains within.
Today, the museum hosts many permanent and temporary exhibitions, in addition to presentations by some of the days leading artists and scholars.
As interesting as I found the exhibitions to be, the building itself is what really caught my eye, so you will forgive me for a moment as I wax lyrical and talk about the remarkable work that went into its creation.
Though the museum was founded in 1939, it was not until four years later that a man by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design the actual building that would house the exhibitions. His instructions were to create something that would reflect the spirit of a temple. A monument, if you will, to the spectacular works contained therein.
Wright took that advice to heart and created the marvellous inverted ziggurat structure that you will see today if you pay the museum a visit. It took over 15 years to bring the project to its completion, with Wright creating over 700 drawings and 6 complete plans before the design was settled upon. The project encountered delays, including the outbreak of World War II and the death of Solomon R. Guggenheim, the museum’s benefactor and funder.
The building officially opened in 1959, six months following the death of its architect, which I believe to be a truly heart-breaking fact. To design such a marvellous creation, only to not be there to see it in all of its glory, is a tragedy that I do not wish to fall upon anybody.
Still, Wright’s modernist monument stands as tribute to the great works of the man, with many claiming it to be the magnum opus of a glittering career. The building has undergone renovations at various points in time, naturally given its age, but the original intention behind the design has never been lost and it really is one of the most recognizable structures in New York.
I particularly love the use of space once you set foot into the museum, as there is an almost holy feeling of reverence towards the pieces contained in the building, without said atmosphere ever becoming cloying. The most striking feature is the famous spiral ramp, which leads up into a marvellous domed skylight that casts a blaze of sunshine over the museum.
It is at once an intensely personal building that also has plenty to offer to those who have the privilege of seeing it. I can say that for myself, seeing it in person presented an entirely different experience to seeing the pictures. My breath was completely taken away and I marvelled at the building for almost an hour before I was able to break the spell and set foot inside.
For those with a passion for art and architecture, the Guggenheim Museum of New York is a definite must-see attraction.