The Guggenheim New York is one of the city’s most famous museums. It’s a landmark by its own right, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation recognized the need for it in 1959 once they had amassed such an amazing collection of art that they realized they needed a permanent building to house the collection. Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design the building in New York City, and the museum has been drawing visitors from all over the world ever since.
The building itself is probably the most famous aspect of the museum. Frank Lloyd Wright spent over 16 years creating sketches and working drawings for the building. It sits on portion of land between 88th and 89th streets on Fifth Avenue, and construction first broke ground in 1956, opening in 1959, just six months after the architect’s death. In 1992, a 10-story tower was added to the structure to provide space for a sculpture gallery with views of Central Park, an auditorium and a restaurant called The Wright.
The Guggenheim Museum has a vast permanent collection that visitors can view at any time. The permanent works come from many different private collections, including Peggy Guggenheim’s collection of abstract and Surrealist painting and sculpture; Justin K Thannhauser’s collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern works; and Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo’s collection of European and American Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, Environmental and Conceptual art. The museum has also received gifts from groups such as the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Bohen Foundation that are part of the permanent collection as well. The museum isn’t divided into departments or sections based on mediums or specific eras. Instead, it is integrated into a whole that is continuously added to and rounded out.
Tips for Visiting the Guggenheim
The Guggenheim is open on Mondays, which is the day most other New York City museums are closed, and that means Monday is one of the busiest days to visit. Try to choose another day, but if this is the only day you have available, arrive early to beat the crowds. Likewise, Saturday evenings beginning at 5:45 p.m. the museum is “Pay What You Wish,” so it tends to be very crowded in the evening as well. Head there early in the day so you don’t get stuck in a long line.
Tours are included with the cost of admission, so hop onto one to get your money’s worth! You will be led around the permanent collection and current exhibitions by a curator who will explain the story behind key pieces of art. You can also pick up a self-guided audio tour or download one onto your iPhone if you prefer to explore on your own. The museum also has plenty of Gallery Guides who are trained employees that are there for you to ask questions and learn more about the art on display.
When tackling the spiral, it’s helpful to take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down the spiral while you duck into the different exhibitions and galleries along the way. It’s a great plan for escaping the crowds hanging out in the entryway and you won’t have to do the uphill climb as you’re going through the various exhibits and the permanent collection.
Kids can have fun here too! Children under 12 get free admission if they come in with a paying adult, and small strollers are permitted in the galleries. Check in at the info desk for more resources for families, as there are a lot of family-oriented events and workshops that cater to younger children as well.