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Everything You Need to Know to Visit the Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York—better known as "the Guggenheim"—was originally intended to house its namesake's eccentric, non-objective art collection, which included works by Vasily Kandinsky and his followers. It quickly became evident that a permanent collection was necessary, so Frank Lloyd Wright was hired to create a masterpiece to showcase the masterworks inside.

The Guggenheim Museum opened its fabled doors in 1959 and has been enthralling visitors ever since. There are even international Guggenheim museums: you can visit them in Dubai, Venice, and Bilbao, and one is currently being planned for Helsinki.


Permanent Guggenheim Museum Collections

While there is no shortage of art to admire in NYC, the Guggenheim truly shines above the rest. Featuring both a permanent and an ever-changing rotation of exhibits, the museum and its collections never fails to inspire.

One of the more popular permanent exhibits is the Thannhauser Collection. It's filled with French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Italian Futurist artwork, including over 30 Picassos and a handful of works by Degas, Kandinsky, Gauguin and more.

Another permanent collection is the Brancusi exhibit, featuring several of his sculptures as well as photographs of the artist in situ. Constantin Brancusi was a pioneer of both non-objective sculptures, as well as new ways to present them to delighted onlookers. He embraced a method of exhibiting that relied on creating a relationship between each piece of art, rather than seeing them as individual units in a space.


The Guggenheim's Rotating Museum Collections

With thousands of pieces of artwork, it's up to the museum's curators to decide on new exhibits that will captivate Guggenheim visitors. Exhibits generally last anywhere between three and six months and can include multiple artists or focus on an individual.

If you're a local resident of New York City or live close enough to visit multiple times each year, make it a point to check out the Guggenheim's website to see what's on display before you go. Past collections have included the poured art of Jackson Pollack and the experimental works of China post-1989, which happened to be the largest show on this particular subject in all of North America. The creativity of the curators knows no bounds, so be prepared to be amazed by their ingenuity.

The Guggenheim Museum Building

If you're just visiting the city, fear not: even if the current exhibits are not to your taste, the sheer wonder of the building itself will be more than enough to incite an incredible feeling of awe. The Guggenheim's sprawling curves juxtaposed against its jutting corners is an instantly recognizable landmark of NYC. Peer down at the crowds from atop the tremendous spiral rotunda, which is a work of art in it of itself.

The audio guide (which can be acquired via a free device in the museum or by downloading the Guggenheim app) offers additional information about the building, as well as tidbits about the entire collection.


When Is the Best Time to Visit the Guggenheim Museum?

Like many popular museums, the Guggenheim is usually most crowded on weekends and during school hours on weekdays. However, if your schedule permits, try visiting on a Tuesday night during the summer when it stays open until 9pm. During these "after hours," you'll get to enjoy craft cocktails and music in the rotunda, plus special summer programs like film screenings and themed talks.

For the rest of the year, the Guggenheim is open from 10am to 5:45pm every day but Saturday. On Saturdays, the museum closes at 7:45pm. If no visit to a museum is complete without a trip to the gift shop, note that the Guggenheim's store hours differ from the museum itself, so be sure to check online for more details before you go.

Tickets for the Guggenheim

You can purchase tickets online or when you arrive at the museum. Members get free admission, but if you're looking for a more of a chance encounter rather than a full-fledged relationship with the museum, try the New York CityPASS. You can flirt with several of New York's top attractions without paying full price.

Special Programs

The Guggenheim offers a host of engaging activities that extend your experience far beyond admiring the art. While these are also rotating, you can be reasonably assured that you'll find art courses, panel discussions, and other exciting events. Do make a point to join Art in the Round public tours, led by esteemed gallery educators. You'll get schooled on notable themes of both single and multiple exhibits.

The Guggenheim is a treat for all types of people, young and old. Even if you're not an ardent fan of non-objective art, it's still worth the trip to admire the striking exterior and interior.