The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most iconic buildings in New York City. But before the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed circular structure opened in 1959, the museum’s art collection had a couple of homes.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was founded in 1937 by the eponymous Guggenheim, a wealthy American industrialist and collector of modern paintings from the likes of Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall. The first public displays of works from Guggenheim’s collection were shown from his private apartment at the Plaza Hotel.
In 1939, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting opened on East 54th Street in a rented gallery designed by William Muschenheim to exhibit Guggenheim’s growing collection for the public. But by the early 1940s, it became clear that the collection needed a permanent home, and in 1943, master architect Frank Lloyd Wright was granted the commission to design a museum.
Sixteen years and 700 sketches later, the museum finally opened its doors on October 21, 1959—six months after Wright’s death. Watch the video to see what makes Wright’s design so special.