The Guggenheim Museum in New York

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references


  • Where it is
  • How to reach us
  • What to see: the building and the works
  • Timetable and ticket prices
  • Eating and shopping at the Guggenheim
  • Photographing and drawing at the museum
  • A bit of history
  • Curiosity
  • What to see nearby

Il Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, better known as Guggenheim, is that famous and candid spiral shaped museum that everyone knows and recognizes (even if they have never been to New York)!

Since 1959, the sinuous building on Fifth Avenue has intrigued and captured the attention for its originality and diversity compared to other buildings in the area.

In fact, it doesn't look like towering skyscrapers at all, and no other building looks like a white ribbon unrolled from the ground floor up. It's like the ribbon wraps around a cylinder, wider at the top and narrower at the base.

Its architectural originality, thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous American architect, however, is not the only reason for his fame.

The Guggenheim, in fact, is a modern and contemporary art museum first-rate.

Where it is

At 1071 5th Avenue.

It is one of the "inhabitants" of the Museum Mile, the famous Fifth Avenue area of ​​over twenty blocks, between 82nd Street and 105th Street, in which a dozen museums are concentrated (among which there is also the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The Met").

How to reach us

By subway, the closest stop is 86th Street (lines 4, 5 or 6).

From here, a walk that will last less than ten minutes awaits you.
Head towards Central Park (north) and continue along the park. Then turn right on Fifth Avenue, and continuing for another short distance you will see the unmistakable building.

What to see: the building and the works

An exhibition a few years ago by Maurizio Cattelan

Of course, your attention will immediately be captured by thebuilding, which you will want to photograph from the outside and which also holds magnificent surprises inside.

In fact, the environment is spacious, still dominates the white, the spiral appearance is truly original and lifting your head you will see the famous central dome of glass, about 30 meters above the ground, which is probably tired of being photographed all the time (her fault that she is so beautiful).

At the Guggenheim you will notice that there is only one level floor, that is the central entrance space (which the architect had conceived as a socializing space, and not an exhibition space), and the walls have a rounded shape.

You can go up with the elevator and then go down the ramps, following the spiral. The paintings are displayed on the walls and in some rooms along the way.

Which works you can admire?

The museum has around 7.000 of them, but they are never exhibited at the same time.

Among the artists, whose works span a period from the end of the XNUMXth century to our times, we can remember Chagall, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Klee, Picasso, Manet, Modigliani, Degas, Mirò, Van Gogh and, among the most recent, Adriano Costa, Federico Herrero, Carla Zaccagnini, Piero Manzoni, Gabriel Sierra, Erika Verzutti.

The exhibition itinerary varies throughout the year, so before going it is advisable to check on the official website which are the exhibitions of the period. 

Whatever the exhibition of the moment, the Guggenheim deserves to be seen!

All the more reason this year: in October 2019 the building will celebrate its 60th anniversary, so if you are in New York you should definitely go and congratulate him in person.

To become passionate about this museum there is also his App, downloadable from iTunes or Google Play (available in Spanish).

Moreover, during your visit, here and there in the gallery you can meet the Gallery Guides, real guides who wear a round pin with the words “Let's Talk Art”.

These extremely knowledgeable and professional people are there to share ideas and stories about the art on display with visitors.

Timetable and ticket prices

The Guggenheim is open every day, at the following times:

  • Monday 10.00 - 17.30
  • Tuesday 10.00 - 20.00
  • Wednesday to Friday 10.00 - 17.30
  • Saturday 10.00 - 20.00
  • Sunday 10.00 - 17.30

Pricing of tickets:

  • Adults $ 25
  • Students and over 65 $ 18 (with ID)
  • <12 anni e soci del museo, ingresso gratuito

On Saturday, from 17.00 to 20.00, admission is free offer (with payment in cash only).

The recommended amount is $ 10 and the last ticket is issued at 19.30pm.

Buy the ticket

The entrance to the Guggenheim it is also included in the passes.

Eating and shopping at the Guggenheim

If you feel a little peckish you can stop at Cafe 3 (level 3) to enjoy pastries, chocolates, sandwiches, salads and drinks such as tea, coffee (Lavazza!), wine, beer.

For a more substantial meal, the restaurant awaits you on level 1 The Wright. It serves American cuisine and is set in a space graced by a colorful installation by American artist Sarah Crowner.

The Guggenheim could not miss the shops (at level 1 and 6).

Here you will find books, posters of the works exhibited at the museum, gifts for children, for the home, accessories, jewelery items, eccentric clothes, creations by young designers and even several smaller versions of the museum!

If you are madly in love with the spiral building, then, you could buy the miniature model in wood, resin or plaster (first, however, think if you really have a space for him at home).

Opening time:

  • Monday 9.30pm - 18.00pm
  • Tuesday 9.30 - 20.30
  • Wednesday to Friday 9.30 - 18.00
  • Saturday 9.30 - 20.30
  • Sunday 9.30 - 18.00

Then there is the possibility of shopping online, even from Spain, on the Guggenheim Store site.

Photographing and drawing at the museum

Shooting is allowed Photos for personal and non-commercial use, unless there are different indications in the galleries. However, tripods and extensions for video cameras cannot be used.

Admiring the artwork in such a special museum could inspire your creativity. You can then disegnare in pencil on notebooks, while the use of pens, paints for painting and easels is prohibited.

A bit of history

The current Guggenheim in New York has been given its current name since 1952, while it was previously the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.

It was located on 54th Street and was born in 1937 to exhibit the abstract works of artists such as Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, owned by the magnate and art collector Solomon R. Guggenheim.

The need to equip the museum with a larger venue was perceived in the 1943s, so in XNUMX the architect Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design.

The head of the collection, Hilla von Rebay, invited him to create a space that could create a close relationship between art and architecture.

Today we can confirm that the task was done very well, but the work was not easy.

The architect, in fact, initially studied four possible versions of the building, three with a circular plan and one with a hexagonal plan; the version that would later take shape found definition in 1945.

However, several building permit issues and disagreements between Wright and the museum's new director, James Sweeney, delayed completion of the work.

Only in October 1959 the building could be inaugurated, but neither Wright nor Solomon Guggenheim could attend the event.

The founder, in fact, had passed away in 1949, and ironically the architect died in 1959, a few months before the inauguration.

In 1992 the Guggenheim was extended: Gwathmey Siegel & Associates studio worked on adding a tower, this time with a rectangular base, taking into account Wright's original sketches.

This exhibition space allows you to host large works, installations and sculptures. Someone criticized the new portion of the museum, claiming that it altered the identity of the building. What do you think about it?

As you already know, the Guggenheim is the progenitor of a family of museums, being the first to be built by the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation. This institution was created in 1937 by Solomon himself, with the intention of promoting the understanding of art and founding and directing "one or more museums".

The other offices are located in Venezia, Bilbao e Abu Dhabi.

The other offices of the Guggenheim

The museum of Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, was opened in 1980 and is located in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal.

It bears the name of Solomon R. Guggenheim's granddaughter, Peggy, of whom he mainly exhibits his personal collection, along with other works of modern art of great value.

Il Guggenheim in Bilbao, in Spain, opened its doors in 1997. It includes a permanent collection of XNUMXth century European and American works of art and contemporary Basque and Spanish works of art. There are also numerous temporary exhibitions.

Conceived by architect Frank Gehry, who owes his fame above all to this project, the museum features innovative shapes and a shining titanium coating that makes it easily recognizable.

Its position is also happy, having been identified so that the vain building can be seen from various strategic points of the city.

The headquarters of Abu Dhabi it is still under development. Designed, like that of Bilbao, by Frank Gehry, it is inspired by the vast spaces of industrial studios and will rise on a peninsula in the northwestern tip of the island of Saadiyat adjacent to the city.

It will be the largest of all "Guggenheim", but the opening date is not yet known.

See here how beautiful the four locations of the Guggenheim are!

The image of the Abu Dhabi museum for the moment is a rendering, but the built building should be exactly like this.


Because it looks like a spiral?

This form evokes being in constant change, like art. According to another interpretation, the building recalls a religious structure of Mesopotamia, the ziggurat, however overturned, which in this case would symbolize the union of peoples with culture. Wright himself had nicknamed the Taruggiz building (Ziggurat in reverse).

A recurring idea in Wright's mind ...

The idea of ​​the spiral was in the architect's mind long before he designed the building to house the Guggenheim. In fact, as early as 1925 he had designed a work (never built) to be installed on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland, called the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective.

It featured a planetarium, restaurant, and viewing facility that visitors would reach by driving their cars up a huge spiral ramp. The VC Morris Gift Shop in San Francisco, a work designed by Wright in 1948, and then built, also has a spiral shape.

The lighting

The architect had foreseen, for the Guggenheim, only natural lighting, since he considered artificial light "dishonest".

To allow adequate lighting of the works in all conditions, however, the museum was then also equipped with an artificial lighting system.

Criticism from the artists

The sloping floors and rounded walls, characteristics to which much of the Guggenheim's fame is linked, created initial disappointment among the artists.

Thirty-two of them in 1956 wrote a letter to the director of the museum, communicating that they considered the idea of ​​exhibiting paintings and sculptures in curved and sloping rooms disrespectful.

The linear context, evidently, was considered the only one suitable for adequately contemplating works of art.

How times change: just think how happy any artist of today would be if he were given the opportunity to exhibit his works in the legendary Guggenheim!

I sosia

Currently there are Guggenheim “doubles”, that is to say museums with the same spiral layout.

These include the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart and the BMW museum in Munich.

What to see nearby

Going to Central Park is always a good idea, and if you feel like visiting other museums on the same day, remember that you are in the right "mile", the Museum Mile.

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