Museum Highlight: Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and Foundation


Created to bring viewing of modern art to the people, the Guggenheim museum was designed and built in the 1950s in New York and has remained an important site showcasing modern art and artists since. With a focus on modern and contemporary art, the Guggenheim was a novel concept at a time when what you saw in a museum was a collection of things long past.


Founded in 1937, the Guggenheim was New York’s first venue for the sole purpose of the display of art, beginning with exhibitions of Solomon Guggenheim’s personal collection. Hilla Rebay was the original curator and the first director of the museum. In the early 40s a new building was commissioned to Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened October 21, 1959. It has stood since, with several restorations and updates, and remains one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of artistic architecture in the world.


Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim stands in an area with a high level of visibility, directly across from Central Park in New York City. A major outstanding feature of its design is the iconic shape, a series of concentric rings which is larger at the top than at the bottom. This was a design choice which not only caught the eye, but showed off Wright’s architectural expertise in creating a design which seems to defy gravity. The other Guggenheim building locations, in Venice, Bilbao, and Abu Dhabi, also feature iconic and eye-catching construction designs.


Unlike other museums, for example the Louvre which features huge collections of art that have been painstakingly restored from bygone centuries, the Guggenheim museums feature newer artistic pieces. Its displays cycle a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year, with only newer forms – Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and Contemporary art.


With a variety of works by numerous art masters, the museum owns several famous pieces with recognized historical significance from notable names. ‘Black Lines’ by Vasily Kandinksy may not be the first definitively abstract work in existence, but if it’s not, it’s very near the beginning of the movement. ‘Woman Ironing’ by Pablo Picasso during his blue period, and ‘Morning in the Village after Snowstorm’ by Kazimir Malevich both show some of the most beautiful pieces in collections by artists perhaps better known for later, more abstract and disconnected works.


The Guggenheim is known for hosting a variety of initiatives to incentivize artists to create and display their works. One well known example is the Hugo Boss Prize, awarded biannually since 1996. It is awarded to an artist or group of artists using any medium, and from any part of the world. One of its unique features is that in addition to being awarded for use in any medium, the prize has no restrictions on nationality or age.  The museum is also part of the American Alliance for Museums, which includes other such sites as the American Heritage Museum and the NY Zoo, allowing visitors to see a variety of museums free for one annual fee.

If you’d like more information about the Guggenheim family of museums or have other questions about art, contact one of our experts at the Sybaris Collection for a one-on-one discussion of your art collection goals.