Former Museum of Non-Objective Painting
The Guggenheim Museum holds a unique place in the history of museums. Established some sixty years ago by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim and artist-advisor Hilla Rebay, it assumed temporary residence in a former automobile showroom on East 54th Street in New York.
The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, as it was then known, took as its basis the radical new forms of art being developed by such artists as Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. The insistence of its founders on a wholly new kind of art seen in a wholly new kind of space set the Guggenheim on its path. Throughout its history, it has stood as a groundbreaking institution geared as much toward the promise of the future as the preservation of the past.
The first permanent home for the Guggenheim Museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He envisioned a building that not only broke the rectilinear grid of Manhattan but also shattered existing notions of what a museum could be. He conceived of its curving, continuous space as a "temple of spirit" where viewers could foster a new way of looking. Its opening in 1959 drew huge crowds and stirred considerable controversy, and the building has never lost its power to excite and provoke. It stands today as one of the great works of architecture produced in this century.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York developed alongside a sister institution in Venice: the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Located in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, it features a rich collection of objects ranging in style from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism, and its garden is home to a world-class collection of modern sculpture.
In 1979, the Palazzo was donated to the Guggenheim Foundation, so that the Venice and New York museums together formed the basis for the institution's international orientation.