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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City

1959, by Frank Lloyd Wright

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The Guggenheim Museum in New York City is an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's use of hemicycle styling.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, opened on October 21, 1959

Photo © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
Frank Lloyd Wright created the Guggenheim Museum as a series of organic shapes. Circular forms spiral down down like the interior of a nautilus shell. Visitors to the museum begin on the upper level and follow a sloping ramp downward through connected exhibition spaces. At the core, an open rotunda offers views of artwork on several levels.

Frank Lloyd Wright, who was known for his self-assurance, said that his goal was to "make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before."

Painting the Guggenheim

In Frank Lloyd Wright's earliest drawings of the Guggenheim, the exterior walls were red or orange marble with verdigris copper banding on the top and bottom. When the museum was built, the color was a more subtle brownish yellow. Over the years, the walls were repainted an almost white shade of gray. During recent restorations, preservationists have asked which colors would be most appropriate.

Up to eleven layers of paint were stripped, and scientists used electron microscopes and infrared spectroscopes to analyze each layer. Eventually, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission decided to keep the museum white. Critics complained that Frank Lloyd Wright would have chosen bolder hues and the process of painting the museum stirred heated controversy. See: Painting the Guggenheim

Learn more about The Guggenheim Museum:

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