In 1937, Solomon
R. Guggenheim announced that he was going to create a philanthropic foundation
to establish a "Museum of Non-Objective Art" in New York.
Case Study in Contemporary Museum Issues
Museum began as a privately-funded, new institution for non-representational,
abstract, modern art, and Guggenheim commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to
design a new kind of museum space
(see museum history).
After beginning in a smaller location, the Guggenheim opened the Wright
building in 1959 (see more
on the building).
Wright-designed, NY Guggenheim
works that defined the collection were from non-objective painters like
Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. The collection greatly
expanded in the 1970s when Peggy Guggenheim, a niece of Solomon and a
famous art collector and dealer, donated her art collection then housed
in her Venetian home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal
in Venice (see the Peggy Guggenheim
Collection, Venice site, now part of the Guggenheim Foundation). In
the 1990s, the Guggenheim expanded into something like an empire, opening
new museums in SoHo (New York, 1992), Bilbao (Spain, 1997), Berlin (1997),
Las Vegas (2001). In 2002-2003, the financial strains of the expansion
caused cutbacks in NY and Las Vegas.
of the Guggenheim's growth and expansion since the late 1980s are a window
onto artworld and museum economics and politics. The expansion was funded
by overlapping sources of money: from the private and corporate sectors
(donors and sponsorships) and from nonprofit and public sources (foundation
and public arts money). The expansion, overseen and promoted by Thomas
Krens, the museum director since 1988, included large, expensive, "blockbuster"
art shows, and Krens' business approach has generated controversy and
criticism from many sides of the artworld and museum constituents.
readings are sources for building a case study on current museum issues
using the recent history and current state of the Guggenheim as an example.
These articles are to be read in the context of the prior readings on
the social, political, and economic conditions of art museums today.
website and history
of the N.Y. Guggenheim
of Guggenheim, Bilbao
and press releases on "The Global Guggenheim" exhibition in
description || Press
for Whose Sake? Modern Art Museums and Their Role in Transforming
Societies: The Case of the Guggenheim Bilbao," Journal of Conservation
and Museum Studies, November 2001.
Merchants Enter the Temple," Economist, 3/19/2001. [On
the new business model of the museum.]
Las Vegas!" Artnet, 10/11/01. [On the Guggenheim, Las
Art Puts Down a Bet in a House of Games," NYT, 4/12/02.
[Review of Guggenheim Las Vegas.]
the Go-Go Guggenheim Going, Going . . .," New York Times,
Magazine, 6/30/2002. [Major look at the state of the Guggenheim, in
the NYT Magazine.]
Era Ends for the Guggenheim," NYT, 12/6/02. [Budget
crunch and board director's ultimatum for Krens.]
Gives the Guggenheim an Ultimatum, Then $12 Million," NYT,
Guggenheim Closes Hall in Las Vegas," NYT, 12/24/02.
W. Dunlap, "Guggenheim
Drops Plans for East River Museum," NYT, 12/31/02.
Devine Thomas, "The Guggenheim Downsizes," ARTnews, February
2003. ["After years of expansion, Guggenheim director Thomas Krens
has slashed spending, staff, and programming—under pressure from board
chair Peter Lewis to balance the budget or leave the museum ."]
Martin Irvine, 2003-2005