Visiting the Guggenheim Museum was an easy sell to my kids because they remember the museum from the family movie with Jim Carrey, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. In the movie, the penguins that Mr. Popper inherits run amok in the museum.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York is one of the most important works of Frank Lloyd Wright, widely recognised by many as the greatest of the American architects.
The Guggenheim is an inverted ziggurat shape which took years to build. Among the delays were redesigns of the building and the onset of World War II. The museum was finally opened in October 1959 by which time not only had Wright died but also the man who commissioned the museum itself, Solomon Guggenheim.
The building quickly became a landmark in New York City and as famous as the priceless works of art it held.
The building has no floors just a spiral ramp which was a concept completely fascinating to my children. The spiral ramp leads your eye up to the glass dome that is the ceiling 92 feet above your head. People think Wright was influenced by a nautilus shell when he designed the ramp and a spider web when he designed the centre light well.
The artworks are actually hidden behind this ramp so all you really see from the centre of the building is the shape of the structure itself.
Wright was heavily influenced by geometric shapes. The activity booklet they give children at the entrance to the museum really highlights this aspect of the building.
I think my children had more fun finding the different geometric shapes than actually focusing on the art on the walls. Apparently this point was one of the criticisms of the building. Important art can find itself playing second fiddle to the building itself.
We found lots of different shapes – triangles, circles, ovals, squares, and spirals – everywhere from the light panels to the patterns on the floor.
The kids and I had a lot of fun doing the activity book and looking for shapes. I had thought we’d be learning about art at the Guggenheim but instead we had an interesting lesson in geometry and modern architecture!
Visiting the Guggenheim Museum in New York City
The Guggenheim Museum is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 89th street in Manhattan. It is open every day except Thursday. Admission is a steep $25 for adults but children under the age of 12 go free. The museum houses a collection of famous works starting with the Impressionists all the way to contemporary artists as well as special exhibitions.