In 1943, Rebay and Guggenheim asked Frank Lloyd Wright to create a structure to contain and showcase the collection in a letter. Wright jumped at the chance to test his naturalistic aesthetic in an urban context. The museum took him 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings. It is estimated that it cost $2 million in today's money to build the Guggenheim Museum.
Wright proposed that a self-supporting shell of glass be erected over an internal steel frame with an exterior made of reinforced concrete. He also suggested using some of the land behind the building as an art gallery. The plan was accepted by Rebay and Guggenheim and work began on the site near City Hall Park in New York City in 1949. The museum opened its doors to the public on July 10, 1959.
All told, the Guggenheim Museum consists of 5 acres with two buildings connected by an underground passage. The main building is about 40 feet high and 250 feet long; the other is only 20 feet high but nearly 500 feet long. Both are made of reinforced concrete with wood frames inside for windows and doorways. There are no walls within the main building, which is intended to feel like one large room.
The museum is most famous for its use of sculpture as its central element.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City was created by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The skyscraper violated centuries-old architectural standards, prompting contemporary artists to join a petition against it. Its opening was delayed for more than a decade while Wright revised it according to critics' suggestions.
Wright began planning the Guggenheim in 1937, three years after his death. It was originally going to be called "The United States Gallery of Decorative Art", but the Board of Directors decided to change the title after they discovered that another organization had already claimed this right.
The building is an example of modern architecture and sits on a plot of land within the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. It has been described as "the most famous building in America that wasn't designed by Louis Sullivan or Walter Gropius."
It has been reported that Wright received some funding from his friend Solomon Guggenheim but this isn't confirmed by any documents found so far. Solomon Guggenheim did help finance projects that were important to Wright, such as the Taliesin Fellowship. However, since these projects weren't central to Wright's work as an architect, they didn't qualify as "kickbacks" under Italian law at the time.
Guggenheim died in 1949, before the building was finished, giving $8 million to the foundation that oversaw the opening. On September 20, 1945, Wright (left) examines his spiral-shaped model of the Guggenheim with its eponymous patron and the Baroness Hilla Rebay, an artist and director of the projected museum, in New York City. The model is now in the Archives of American Art.
Wright proposed the idea for a museum devoted to non-Western art during a meeting with Solomon R. Guggenheim in 1937. The two men reached an agreement about the nature of the institution and the amount of money Guggenheim would give to it if Wright would design the building. The Guggenheim Foundation was established by will in 1947 after Wright's death to manage the money he left behind. The foundation hired Louis I. Kahn as executive director in 1951 and he selected architect Peter Paul Rubenstone to design a new building for the museum.
The Guggenheim Foundation continues to support research and education in the arts today through its Guggenheim Fellows program. The first fellows were announced in a newspaper ad placed by Wright's son Richard when he came into possession of the family business in 1952. He chose artists as well as architects for the award.
There are still many more questions than answers about the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Solomon Guggenheim.