Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York, United States

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year The museum was established by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, the artist Hilla von Rebay It adopted its current name after the death of its founder, Solomon R Guggenheim, in 1952

In 1959, the museum moved from rented space to its current building, a landmark work of 20th-century architecture Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, was conceived as a “temple of the spirit” Its unique ramp gallery extends up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling skylight The building underwent extensive expansion and renovations in 1992

The museum’s collection has grown organically, over eight decades, and is founded upon several important private collections, beginning with Solomon R Guggenheim’s original collection The collection is shared with the museum’s sister museums in Bilbao, Spain, and elsewhere In 2013, nearly 12 million people visited the museum, and it hosted the most popular exhibition in New York City

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Founded in 1937, the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development) Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum The Foundation is also committed to fostering research, exhibitions, and collections in the field of global art through such programs as the Asian Art Initiative, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, and The Robert H N Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative

Solomon R Guggenheim, a member of a wealthy mining family, had been collecting works of the old masters since the 1890s In 1926, he met artist Hilla von Rebay, who introduced him to European avant-garde art, in particular abstract art that she felt had a spiritual and utopian aspect non-objective art Guggenheim completely changed his collecting strategy, turning to the work of Wassily Kandinsky, among others He began to display his collection to the public at his apartment in the Plaza Hotel in New York City As the collection grew, he established the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, in 1937, to foster the appreciation of modern art

The foundation’s first venue for the display of art, the “Museum of Non-Objective Painting”, opened in 1939 under the direction of Rebay, in midtown Manhattan Under Rebay’s guidance, Guggenheim sought to include in the collection the most important examples of non-objective art available at the time by early modernists such as Rudolf Bauer, Rebay, Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Marc Chagall, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso
By the early 1940s, the foundation had accumulated such a large collection of avant-garde paintings that the need for a permanent museum building had become apparent In 1943, Rebay and Guggenheim wrote a letter to Frank Lloyd Wright asking him to design a structure to house and display the collection Wright accepted the opportunity to experiment with his organic style in an urban setting It took him 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings to create the museum

In 1948, the collection was greatly expanded through the purchase of art dealer Karl Nierendorf’s estate of some 730 objects, notably German expressionist paintings By that time, the foundation’s collection included a broad spectrum of expressionist and surrealist works, including paintings by Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka and Joan Miró After Guggenheim’s death in 1949, members of the Guggenheim family who sat on the foundation’s board of directors had personal and philosophical differences with Rebay, and in 1952 she resigned as director of the museum Nevertheless, she left a portion of her personal collection to the foundation in her will, including works by Kandinsky, Klee, Alexander Calder, Albert Gleizes, Mondrian and Kurt Schwitters