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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, the artist Hilla von Rebay. It adopted its current name after the death of its founder, Solomon R. Guggenheim, in 1952.
Frank Lloyd Wright produced four different sketches for the initial design. While one of the plans had a hexagonal shape and level floors for the galleries, all the others had circular schemes and used a ramp continuing around the building. He had experimented with the ramp design on the house he completed for his son in 1952, the David & Gladys Wright House in Arizona.Wright’s original concept was called an inverted “ziggurat”, because it resembled the steep steps on the ziggurats built in ancient Mesopotamia. His design dispensed with the conventional approach to museum layout, in which visitors are led through a series of interconnected rooms and forced to retrace their steps when exiting.
Wright’s plan was for the museum guests to ride to the top of the building by elevator, to descend at a leisurely pace along the gentle slope of the continuous ramp, and to view the atrium of the building as the last work of art. The open rotunda afforded viewers the unique possibility of seeing several bays of work on different levels simultaneously and even to interact with guests on other levels.