Some buildings look like sculptures. Some buildings were constructed to make some kind of impact, or to show technological development. Today I’ll be talking about a museum I had dreamed of visiting until I did it in July this year.
New York City. I will not be writing a lot about that city so far – first I will need to go there one more time, to take more days to discover it, to visit Brooklyn, Queens, Statue of Liberty… to have several days for this unique alpha world city. Since I was on a summer program called Global Village, in the nearby Pennsylvania, for a period of five weeks, away from my regular work for five weeks, with lots of projects to do, I could not extend my stay in the USA for more than the duration of that program. So, I had only one day and a half to see New York. What did I? I walked a lot and I enjoyed the Central Park. I saw the Times Square, the Madison Avenue, and the Rockefeller Center. And most importantly – I went away from my friends to see the Solomon Guggenheim Museum. I went there alone, feeling these unique moments of being a single walker in New York.
Situated at the 5th Avenue, next to the Central Park and its Reservoir, this masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1959, lies like an impressive sculpture between the typical buildings of Manhattan. I had that moment of surprise when it suddenly appeared in front of me between two trees of the Central Park.
Once you enter the building, you’ll notice a fountain. The picture bellow shows you a view over that fountain and the entrance area. Now you may ask two questions – 1) From which floor the picture was taken, 2) Why these stairs are so long?
The answer to these questions is in the logic of this building, designed to be a museum. While most of the museums have accessibility as one of the core values, and a simple elevator usually resolves it, this Museum has no stairs in its exhibition area. Like you see in the next picture, the whole way through the Museum is designed like a giant spiral. So the answer to the second question is that in the exhibition area there are no floors at all. So far I saw a similar concept only at the Reichstag Dome in Berlin.
Collections and Exhibitions
Have you heard anything about the Guggenheim Family and their activities? I did but I’m not going to talk about these stories now, I just need to say that this Museum was named after Solomon Guggenheim, the most notable art collector from this family and the Founder of the Guggenheim Foundation. In the 30s, he opened his apartment to public to show his collection of contemporary art. Several years later he had so many pieces that he ran out of space to expose them.
So he commissioned a new museum to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, he passed away before seeing the museum completed. It opened in 1959 and immediately became a total attraction of NYC.
László Moholy-Nagy was one of the collectors preferred artists. At the time of my visit his works were exposed, his whole lifetime and personal development. An impressive sequence of painting, sculptures, experiments, films and concepts shows a rich creative life. Personally, I really loved to catch exactly this artist’s exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum and in NYC – I made my high school final essay precisely about the Bauhaus school, the German institution on which the artist gave classes. The Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany is on the top of my travel wishlist 😀
Museum shops can tell you a lot about museums and their backgrounds, so I always give a lot of attention to them. Guggenheim Foundation wants to motivate contemporary, 21st century, young artists to continue creating. A good design is very important.
I made a nice shopping in the Museum’s shop. Apart from buying a few gifts for my mom and a friend, I got a simple textile bag for myself, a bag that provides a possibility to be customized with the owner’s storylines.
I’ll let you know how I will customize it! 😀
So, this Museum is an artwork itself, it stores art, shows art, changes the ways it shows art, it provides different colors of art at every moment, and visitors become a part of that art. Furthermore, visitors have an opportunity to get a few objects and make some art out of them.
This building has its little secrets. One of them is a Library. A beautiful room whose entrance looks like a keyhole. By going inside, you can enjoy your time reading a variety of books about art and artists.
Many architectural details can tell you how this building is intended to provide a perpetual sensation of surprise. Some fountains and even toilets have a golden color; I have heard that they are even made in gold, though I’m not sure about it 😀
I absolutely love museums that have such unique buildings. Though I haven’t been to the Guggenheim Bilbao yet, I can tell you a few more examples of interesting contemporary museum architectures that I have visited already – Vučedol Culture Museum, with a similar no-stairs architecture and visiting scheme & Alvar Aalto Museum. Great classical museum architectures I have visited include the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Naturhistoriches Museum in Vienna, while I also loved the interiors of the Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi.