The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was designed by one of the most important architects of the 20th century: Frank Lloyd Wright. It is interesting to go there and discover this spectacular architecture while walking in Central Park, and suddenly see it through the leaves and tree branches.
While you are walking to get there, you notice it, you look at it, and you don’t realize right away that a city road runs between the park and the museum. This makes the discovery even more incredible and it makes me immediately think of organic architecture, even though we are right in the center of Manhattan.
Once you leave Central Park, you find this huge upside-down spiral in front of your eyes, like a beautiful white cloud in the middle of a storm (of skyscrapers). Only later you notice the infernal New York traffic, with yellow taxis speeding along Fifth Avenue, in its Museum Mile portion.
Entering the museum, you initially find yourself inside a small space with a low ceiling, typical of Wright’s architecture, but this lasts only a moment, because a few steps further on, you suddenly plunge into an open space, illuminated from above and surrounded by a single large ramp that rises all around, welcoming visitors. Wright thinks of this museum as an open space, with the main ramp as a served space and serving space together: It is, with the elevators, the vertical connection that allows the use of the museum, and also some works of art are already exhibited in it. The boldest visitor will walk up this ramp to visit the museum, but with common sense, one goes up the last level in an elevator, and then begins the descent in an immersion with the works of art.
The ramp presents open exhibition “niches”, alternated with supporting walls, but not just that. Indeed, it is possible to access some more reserved spaces, galleries, to visit particular exhibitions. This is where one can focus the most, staying face to face with paintings, statues or photographs.
The lines of this architecture are so soft, they gently accompany the eye and never get confused or confuse the viewer. The color white helps the display, making it never boring or gloomy. The natural lighting, coming from the dome at the top of the building, reaches the ramp well, but not quite the niches, which are illuminated by openings placed at the top in contact with the ceiling and with artificial light, in some cases (few) pointed directly at the works of art.
The interior of the museum is never in contact with the outside. This choice is crucial, because it does not allow for distractions: all attention is focused exclusively on art. And yet, by the way, many artists, at the time of the opening of the museum, were not very convinced of exhibiting their works in it, considering the possibility that visitors could be distracted by the elegance and beauty of the architecture itself and would not grasp the importance of their work. All this brought to mind the controversies concerning baroque decorations inside churches, which could distract the faithful churchgoer from dialogue with God.
The truth is that every work inside it is equally valued, whether it is work by Picasso, Kandinsky, or Degas. And it is fantastic to be able to say that I could observe art inside art, to be able to have a dialogue with paintings, sculptures, installations, inside a “temple of spirit”, the Guggenheim.