While the Guggenheim’s collection of modern art works is certainly impressive, it is impossible to separate the museum’s contents from its form with architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s brilliant and controversial design. Opened in 1959 on Fifth Ave across from Central Park, just months after Wright’s death, the concrete inverted ziggernaut (a Babylonian step pyramid), stomped on the expectations and tradition of clean square galleries exemplified and cherished by the neighboring Upper East Side museums, like the nearby Metropolitan Museum. Instead Wright combined his use of geometric shapes and nature, to create a gallery space that presented art along a flowing, winding spiral, much like a nautilus shell, with little in the way of walls to separate artists, ideas or time periods. Best experienced as Wright intended by taking the elevator to the top of the museum and following the gentle slope down, the art is revealed at different angles along the descent and across the open circular rotunda in a way that even the most well known Monet landscape might seem like a revelation. This unusual, bold way of approaching art, both as it is displayed and viewed, has inspired spectacular exhibits by highly-conceptual contemporary artists such as a series of films by Matthew Barney and hundred of Maurizio Cattelan's sculptures hanging from the ceiling. Considering the steep price of admission ($25, students and seniors $18, children under 12 free), make sure to take a break from the captivating main exhibit of the season and visit the small rooms off the rotunda to see the permanent collection, which includes works by Picasso, Cezanne, Manet and the largest selection of Kandinsky paintings to be permanently shown in America.
|Venue name:||Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum||Contact:|
1071 Fifth Ave
|Cross street:||at 89th St|
|Opening hours:||Sun–Wed, Fri 10am–5:45pm; Sat 10am–7:45pm.|
|Transport:||Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th St|
|Price:||$25, seniors (65+) and students with valid ID $18, children under 12 free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish. $25, seniors and students with ID $18, members and children under 12 accompanied by an adult free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish|
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Maurizio Cattelan, “America”
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This is a lovely museum, but it's fun to go more for the experience of exploring the space, if not for the art. Wherever you are in Frank Lloyd Wright's rotunda, you're seeing the space from an entirely new perspective. When you're at the top looking down, the views are dizzying. Afterward, wander off for a long, art-inspired stroll through Central Park.