A sculpture in its own right, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s building almost overshadows the collection of 20th century art it houses. The museum’s holdings include works by Kandinsky, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Over time, other key additions have been made, including paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Degas, photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, and key surrealist works. Temporary exhibitions are the real draw – the best of which are stunning site-specific installations by some of the great visionary artists of today.
Completed in 1959, the inverted ziggurat structure was derided by some critics but hailed by others, who welcomed it as a beloved architectural icon – indeed, since it first opened, this unusual structure has appeared on countless postcards, TV programs and films. The Guggenheim came out of the collection of Solomon R Guggenheim, a New York mining magnate who began acquiring abstract art in his 60s at the behest of his art adviser, an eccentric German baroness named Hilla Rebay.
The museum’s ascending ramp is occupied by rotating exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. Though Wright intended visitors to go to the top and wind their way down, the cramped single elevator doesn’t allow for this. Exhibitions, therefore, are installed from bottom to top.
There are two good on-site food options: The Wright, at ground level, a space-age eatery serving steamy risotto and classic cocktails, and Cafe 3, on the 3rd floor, which offers sparkling views of Central Park and excellent coffee and light snacks.