The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is a wonderful example of how architecture affects people and social spaces. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1943 to hold the collection of non-objective paintings of Mr. Guggenheim, the museum would become the most controversial in New York then as well as now. Influenced by the Ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia, the museum is an expanding continuous spiral around a central rotunda. The interior mimics the exterior with five diminishing ramps, which are illuminated by the grand, domed skylight overhead. Visitors enter the building and take the elevator to the uppermost floor to where they will view the artwork as they progress down the uninterrupted ramp. Low ceilings and sloped, top-lit walls present the art in a more intimate way than traditional museums. To ease worries that the building would dominate the art, F.L. Wright wrote to Guggenheim and his curator Hilla Rebay that it would be an “atmosphere of great harmonious simplicity wherein human proportions are maintained in relation to the picture is characteristic of your building” (Krens, 53).
This museum is anything but simplistic. F.L Wright, through his architecture, dictated how the art would be exhibited, in which order it would be viewed, and prescribed how people would progress through the building. The effect of continuous movement dictates that no single piece of art be highlighted and none is missed. The effect of the Guggenheim building and it’s bold architecture can be seen in the people walking down 5th Avenue as they stare up in wonderment and by physically imposing a route in which the visitor must use.
In contrast to the Guggenheim is the New York Museum Of Modern Art from 1939. The rectangular floor plan of this contemporary building allows the visitor to experience any portion or all six floors of the museum as desired. The space inside MoMA, although modified over the years, is similar to many other modern art museums in...
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