21 October, 1959: The Guggenheim Museum opened to the public.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s rather cramped exhibit spaces, commissioned by Solomon R. Guggenheim, certainly had ‘monumental dignity and great beauty,’ but were also as confining as the orchestra pit at the Sydney Opera House.
In other words, a wonderful piece of art in itself, but of less than perfect utility.
The art on the curving walls takes third or fourth place to the zany spaces created by the architect, thus breaking a principle canon of architecture: a public structure should be a servant, not a master.
But it is still an inspiration that grows on one, like solid and ugly old furniture. The enormous ‘oatmeal dish’ atop a mix of flat and circular base still manages to evoke generally positive emotions.
And the art inside still takes a back seat to the building!