Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Opens

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art opened in New York City on October 21, 1959.

Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the modern structure marked a bold departure from traditional museum design. Its exhibition space features a spiraling six-story ramp which encircles an open center space lit by a glass dome.

Solomon Guggenheim, the fourth son of Swedish immigrant and mining tycoon Meyer Guggenheim, began collecting modern art in the late 1920s with the assistance of his art advisor Hilla Rebay who was an enthusiast of abstract painting.

In 1937, Guggenheim established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation with the purpose of creating an art museum. He commissioned Wright to design a building in 1937, but construction was not begun until 1957.

Solomon Robert Guggenheim (February 2, 1861 – November 3, 1949) was an American art collector and philanthropist.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of Meyer Guggenheim and brother to Simon, Benjamin, Daniel and four others. Following studies in Switzerland, he returned to the United States to work in the family mining business, later founding the Yukon Gold Company in Alaska. He retired in 1919 to become an art collector and in 1937 he established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to foster the appreciation of modern art. He died in 1949.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and named in his honor, was built between 1955 and 1959. Many of the pieces in the museum's collection are from Solomon's personal collection. Amongst his children were Eleanor Guggenheim (later Lady Castle Stewart), and Gertrude Guggenheim.