Nestled on the Upper East Side, the Guggenheim Museum attracts a worldwide audience in the name of iconic 20th century architecture, modern and contemporary art, and exceptional education programming. But because of its location on the UES, the museum is also a local landmark, drawing in New Yorkers from just across the street, to throughout the city. It is often viewed as a place inspiring wonder and creativity in both its youthful and more seasoned patrons.
The iconic structure prompted a great deal of contention throughout its design and build process. Initially, Wright had envisioned a spiral made of red marble, stating that red is the color of creation. Rebay countered Wright’s vision, arguing that the color red does not embody what the museum should be, and the color was dropped from further designs. Aside from artistic differences, Wright also encountered difficulties with the New York City Department of Buildings over his renderings. The discrepancies resulted in a public display of contention, and even reached a point where Wright had to appear in front of BSA, in defense of his design.
Ultimately, Wright’s vision became a reality through the manifestation of an ivory spiral in 1959, six months after his passing. The building design was considered polarizing, while some reveled at the spiral tilted walkway, others found the iconic spiral to be overshadowing to pieces housed in the museum. Nonetheless, the unique ability to see multiple floors of the museum at a time from any particular viewpoint allow for a visitor to take in the museum exhibition as a piece of art itself.
Although the Guggenheim is most well known for its shape and exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, its unique programming sets it apart from other distinguished structures. The Sackler Center within the museum features a studio art lab, multimedia lab, and computer lab, geared at engaging youth. The Guggenheim also has public programs including conversations with contemporary artists whose work is on exhibit. Courses are available, such as Classroom and Public and Artist Interactions with Karen Finley.
In addition to classroom opportunities, the Guggenheim also hosts free film screenings with the price of museum admission. Currently, the film featured is I am micro, a 15 minute independent film which combines documentary and visual poetry. On Sundays, families with children aged 3-10 are welcome to visit to engage in interactive art projects and take tours with hands on activities as taught by museum educators. Year round, the Guggenheim asks for high school volunteers to assist with family weekend programming.
Every year, 1.3 million people pass through the doors of the Guggenheim Museum. As you can imagine, having over a million people pass through the Frank Lloyd Wright doors has taken a toll. The Guggenheim is hoping to refurbish their front doors through the Partners in Preservation program. As New York City’s first-ever citywide grassroots preservation effort, the call-to-action program will enlist the aid of all New Yorkers, and anyone who loves New York, to vote online to allocate $3 million to the preservation projects most important to them. Because this is such a world renowned museum, we hope you will join us in the Guggenheim’s effort to restore their doors, in order to restore the wonder that so many have experienced as they enter this significant 20th century building.
Click here to vote for the Guggenheim Museum, and find out more about the Guggenheim on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook. Get in touch with the author @danielledowler
Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative byAmerican Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category.