As a native of Queens, it is quite a boon (albeit, being in the outer boroughs, a bit of a hassle) to have in our backyard some of the greatest museums in the world. The American Museum of Natural History, the New-York Historical Society, the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, and my personal favorite (which I believe to be the greatest museum in the world), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are all at our disposal. However, one New York museum – which you already know by now – I hold no love or even respect for: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art.
The main reason for my disdain for the Guggenheim rests on its own website, in the description of the museum:
Completed in 1959, the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright–designed museum is among the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. The museum’s great rotunda has been the site of many celebrated special exhibitions, while its smaller galleries are devoted to the Guggenheim’s renowned collection, which ranges from Impressionism through contemporary art.
First off, I don’t see the Metropolitan waxing poetic and prosaic about the “Calvert Vaux-designed museum” or the U.S. Capitol Visitors’ Center exuding the “Charles Bullfinch-designed institution.” There is no need to have the museum as a venerated work of art. More importantly, as a result of the museum design, the lighting for the works themselves (which we’ll get to in a moment) is absolutely terrible. Next, the “many celebrated special exhibitions” in the rotunda have in recent years been nothing more than advertising space – a whole exhibit on Harley-Davidsons, or a cluster of Ferraris hanging from the ceiling – and while art is certainly based on one’s perspective, I don’t think anyone would call that art. (You’re more than welcome to disagree with me in the comments, though.) Finally, unlike virtually every art museum worth its salt in the city, it really only covers 20th century art (which simply doesn’t jive with me – I can only look at the works of Miro for so long).
The real beef I have with the Guggenheim, though, is the price of admission. Unlike my beloved Metropolitan, which is always suggested admission (with only out-of-towners paying the full $20), or even MoMA or the Brooklyn Museum, which is free on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, the Guggenheim is pay- what-you-wish for only two hours on a Saturday – which, on occasion, is suspended. Otherwise, it’s $18 to view a museum that rests on the laurels of (read: pimps out) its building and the snootiness that only the abstract art of the past 100 or so years is important.
Join me for next week’s installment of Tuesday Afternoon Stuff I Dislike, when I discuss my disdain for football hype.