New York City Opens The Guggenheim Museum – 10/21/1959

US History |

Thousands of people gather outside a weirdly shaped white concrete structure resembling a huge upside-down cupcake on New York City’s Fifth Avenue on October 21st, 1959. This building housed one of the planet’s best collections of contemporary art and is the opening day at what has become known as the Guggenheim Museum.

In the 1930s, mining tycoon Solomon R. Guggenheim decided after he retired to seriously collect art. Being a German artist and baroness, Hilla Rebay made the decision to help him show off what he had purchased in a former car showroom in New York. This was his first showing and it happened in 1939. This was such a success that after several years, the collection that contained pieces from Marc Chagall, Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee became too small to display in its current place. Again, Rebay was able to assist in 1943 as she contacted an architect by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright to hire him in order to create more than an average museum but a “temple of spirit” that people would be exposed to art in a unique manner.

Wright agreed and spent the next 16 years of his life fixated on bringing to life his unique design although he died six months before the official opening of the museum. Those who admired the architect applauded his vision as being a success during the opening on October 21st, 1959. When inside, one would see a long ramp that spiraled in an upward direction around a huge central rotunda that was a total of a quarter-mile around that had a domed glass ceiling at the top. Showing off Wright’s love for nature, a giant seashell resembled the 50,000-meter space as every room opened flowingly into the next room.

However, while Wright’s design may have been groundbreaking and admired by many, others chose to criticize it as well. Critics felt that the artwork was not complemented well by the strangely-shaped building. Others felt that more emphasis was focused on the architect than on the art itself. Looking at it from a different perspective, many felt that Wright was successful in his vision; the museum was a place where art and building work jointly to create “an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony.”

The Guggenheim museum has grown the distinction as becoming one of the most attention-grabbing attractions to the city as it can be found on New York’s breathtaking Museum Mile located at the end of Central Park. Astonishingly, the original structure had to be expanded and renovated in 1993 as there was a need to enlarge the space for more exhibitions. Presently, Wright’s masterpiece still inspires and awe and wonderment but also has some people making some very strange comparisons such as a pile of twisted ribbon, a Jell-O mold and even a washing machine! These and others are said by over the 900,000 visitors who make the effort to appear each year at the Guggenheim Museum.

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Amy Haren

Writer

Amy comes from a family of literary geniuses. Her mother and father were published many times in many different publications throughout the world for not only their stories but their photos. Growing up reading the stories her parents wrote, Amy fell in love with animals and travel. She travels when she can and usually heads for the jungles or oceans.