Before being at the heart of an international network of museums, the Guggenheim Museum was first an insolently designed building that was erected on Fifth Avenue in New York. A work by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was in 1947 that the architect was entrusted with the conception of a building that was meant to house the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, imagined by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939. In a letter dated June 1, 1943, Hilla Rebay, the foundation’s curator and director of the museum, directed the architect: “I want a temple of spirit, a monument!” When the building was finally completed 16 years late in 1959, it was its upside-down ziggurat look that set the tone for a non-conformist collection. The museum would quickly become an architectural icon.
On October 21, 1959, the Guggenheim Museum opened to the public. It was six months after the death of the architect, and the building was one of the most significant in the world. A pure gem of modernism liberated from the shackles of angles, the Guggenheim offers a unique space with its spiral ramp and convex skylight. Highly expressive and intensely personal, the Guggenheim is one of the first of its kind, and at the heart of a network that today stretches out to the four corners of the Earth. Committed to innovation, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art in order to explore ideas from different cultures. This constellation of museums surpasses all others in the architecture department. Culturally distinct, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s museums are not merely reproductions of the Guggenheim in New York; they’re quite the opposite.
Founded with a collection of modern and ancient artworks, the Guggenheim is today an institution in constant evolution that’s dedicated to 20th century art and beyond. Take for instance the Guggenheim Bilbao. Inaugurated in 1997, this work by architect Frank Gehry is a spectacular structure made of titanium, glass, and limestone, and has been revered as the most significant building of its era. Frank Gehry also created the highly anticipated Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a preeminent platform for contemporary art and culture. Located in the Middle East, the central axis of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi seeks to create a more inclusive and larger vision of art history. Indeed, humanity has often been more convergent than divided; it’s thus in Abu Dhabi that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation intends to illustrate creativity with local, regional, and international works to avoid classifying art according to geography or nationality. Currently under development, this most stunning star in the Guggenheim constellation is expected to open in late 2017.