The Guggenheim exhibits modern and contemporary painting and sculpture in one of the most famous buildings in the world, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Its collection of 20th-century European modern masters is famous, serving as one basis of its new expansion program. As it remolds itself as an international museum, the Guggenheim now shows much more contemporary art, and has even done encyclopedic exhibits of the traditional arts of China and Africa.
The Guggenheim has one of the largest collections of Wassily Kandinsky's paintings in the world. Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall and Fernand Léger are among other modern masters featured in the permanent collection. The Justin K. Thannhauser Foundation Collection of Modern Art is particularly strong in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. An ongoing series of exhibitions draws on the permanent collection of more than 6,000 works as well as loans from other institutions. Lectures, concerts, dance performances and poetry readings are also offered.
Solomon R. Guggenheim was the fourth of seven brothers from an old New York family with a financial empire based in mining. In the 1920s he began collecting the work of avant-garde artists. As the fame of his collection grew, he opened his apartment to the art world and began lending works for exhibition. In 1937 the Guggenheim Foundation was created, opening two years later as the Guggenheim Collection of Non-Objective Paintings. In 1943 Wright was commissioned as the architect for a new museum. However, due to the museum's controversial design—and New York's conservative building codes—it would be 16 years before the museum would open.
A 10-story tower designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates was added in 1992. Offices were moved underground so the entire Wright building was fully accessible to the public for the first time. The tower—with its four floors of galleries and fifth-floor sculpture terrace—allows many more artworks to be shown from the permanent collection.
In 2019 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrates 60 years as an architectural icon. Since opening its doors on October 21, 1959, the building has inspired visitors as a unique “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet. The Guggenheim will initiate a new seven-day-a-week schedule with evening hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays to coincide with this milestone.
The museum offers a variety of opportunities for children and their families to explore together. Programs include public tours, Family Day Workshops, public performances and films and Family Activity Guides.
Private, interactive family tours lasting approximately one hour are led by art educators with specialized knowledge of the permanent collection, special exhibitions and architecture. Perfect for first-time visitors, a Museum Highlights tour includes an introduction to the building, internationally acclaimed permanent collection and special exhibitions. Special Topic tours, focusing exclusively on the museum's architecture, permanent collection or special exhibitions, are also offered.
Schoolchildren can experience the Guggenheim's extraordinary collection daily beginning at 10 am with tour themes chosen by the teacher, or in-school residencies.
Gallery Tour for grades 1-12; 60 or 90 minutes. Students explore aspects of the Guggenheim's exhibitions through a thematic approach, and engage in discussions as well as activities involving writing, drawing or movement in response to works on view. Tour themes are chosen by the teacher.
Tour and Workshop for grades 2-12; 150 minutes. Following the thematic gallery tour (described above), students participate in a related studio experience where they create their own works of art in our digital or studio art labs.
First Impressions: Stories & Art @ The Guggenheim for grades Pre-K, K & 1. In this three-part program, students make meaningful connections to art through the use of stories while fostering language, visual literacy and critical-thinking skills. The program includes a planning meeting, two visits in the classroom, and an interactive, hands-on museum visit.
Learning Through Art places artists-in-residence in New York City elementary schools, where they collaborate with classroom teachers to design and lead curriculum-based art projects. Programs include 10 or 20 90-minute sessions with each class (for three classes), up to three visits to the museum, and professional development for participating teachers. For further information on LTA see www.lta.org.