Located adjacent to Central Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Guggenheim Museum is both a home to artistic masterpieces and an architectural marvel in its own right. It houses a remarkable collection of artworks by acclaimed artists like Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Marc Chagall—all displayed in one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic buildings.
History of the Guggenheim Museum
The institution known today as the Guggenheim Museum traces its history back to 1937, when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (a non-profit organization established by the wealthy heir to a mining fortune), under the guidance of artist and curator Hilla Rebay, opened the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. This exhibit was the first official home of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s art collection, which included most prominently notable pieces by numerous members of the European avant-garde movement of the period.
As Guggenheim’s collection grew, plans were made to construct a permanent home for it, and legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright was enlisted to design the building. It opened in the fall of 1959 to tremendous fanfare, and today is considered one of Wright’s greatest works. Over the years the Guggenheim has undergone numerous renovations and expansions. Now part of a global network of museums, with affiliated branches in far-flung locales like Bilbao, Venice, and Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Museum is one of New York’s true gems.
What’s at the Guggenheim Museum
Building on its origins as Solomon R. Guggenheim’s private art collection, the Guggenheim Museum today is a veritable who’s who of mid-20th Century European abstract artists. Some of the most famous works found in the Guggenheim include iconic pieces like Wassily Kandinsky’s Landscape with Factory Chimney, Paul Cézanne’s Man with Crossed Arms, and Paul Klee’s Red Balloon. Another classic component of the Guggenheim is the Thannhauser Collection, which contains selections by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Édouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, and Edgar Degas.
The Guggenheim also runs various special exhibits throughout the year. From film screenings to shows by cutting-edge contemporary artists, the Guggenheim is continually hosting new and adventurous works of art. All the while, millions of visitors come to the Guggenheim each year to explore the enduring power of Frank Lloyd Wright’s evocative architectural creation.
There are two dining options available to Guggenheim visitors. Café Rebay, with its lovely views of Central Park, is the more casual option. It serves family-friendly favorites like fresh sandwiches, salads, pastries, and small snacks, in addition to coffee, tea, beer, and wine. The Wright is the Museum’s James Beard Award-winning restaurant. This fine establishment features artistic décor and a seasonal, farm-to-table menu. Hours of operation vary at both spots, so make sure to look into availability before planning your Guggenheim dining experience.
If you’re in search of an inspired gift for a loved one, or just want to snag that perfect souvenir, the Guggenheim Store has you covered. There you’ll find an assortment of exhibition-inspired items, books, jewelry, apparel, accessories, toys, games, and so much more. And if you can’t make up your mind, forget to pick up something to bring back home to Grandma, or just don’t feel like carrying around a shopping bag the rest of the day, you can always visit the online Guggenheim Store. There you’ll find many of the same items, with all sales revenue still going to support the museum.
Tips for Visiting the Guggenheim Museum
- The Guggenheim Museum is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, NY Explorer Pass and New York CityPASS.
- The Guggenheim offers free admission to all children under the age of 12 years old, as well as a discounted admission of $18 for all visitors with disabilities. Full-price adult admission runs $25.
- If you’re looking for a real deal, note that on select Saturdays between the hours of 4:00pm and 6:00pm the Guggenheim offers guests special “pay-what-you-wish” admission. Consult the Guggenheim’s official website for more information on when this promotion is taking place.
- If you’re interested in taking an audio tour of the Guggenheim Museum during your visit, be sure to download the “Bloomberg Connects” app. There you’ll be able to access the museum’s free digital guidebook. It’ll provide you with all sorts of information about the Guggenheim’s history, its exhibits, and more.
- Families will want to look into the many kinds of special programming available to children visiting the Guggenheim. This includes kid-centric art kits, audio guides, and more.
- There are plenty of ways to get to the Guggenheim via public transportation, and the museum even has its own dedicated set of bike racks located on 88th Street. Parking options in the area are more limited, but if you’re driving to the museum, note that two nearby garages—Champion Parking at 60 East 90th Street, and Impark Parking at 40 East 89th Street—offer discounts for Guggenheim visitors. Restrictions apply, and make sure to get your ticket validated by a staff member.