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The Guggenheim Museum

1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)

Just as notable as the masterpieces contained within, the Guggenheim Museum itself is an architectural landmark worthy of a special trip.

The building was built to house the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation's collection, amassed and displayed under the direction of artist Hilla von Rebay, who asked

Frank Lloyd Wright, to design a "temple of spirit." Completed in 1959, the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, features a unique ramp gallery extends up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling skylight. The building's surface was made out of concrete to reduce the cost, inferior to the red-colored stone finish that Wright had wanted. The building underwent extensive expansion and renovations in 1992 (when an adjoining tower was built) and from 2005 to 2008.

While now considered revolutionary -- in a good way -- the design polarized architecture critics before it was even built. Some believed that the building would overshadow the museum's artworks. Wright argued to the contrary that the design makes "the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before." Other critics, and many artists, felt that it is awkward to properly hang paintings in the shallow, windowless, concave exhibition niches that surround the central spiral.

Currently on exhibition is pre-abstraction Kandinsky and a tribute to the Frank Lloyd Wright. As always, you can check out the museum's extensive permanent collection with works by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh.

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