ver since Frank Lloyd Wrights controversial Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum began to take shape on upper Fifth Avenue, New Yorkers have been playing a guessing game, What Is It? The massive, circular concrete building has been likened to an inverted cupcake, a washtub without handles, a giant Jello-mold, and the last outpost of the Maginot Line. Now the museum has been opened, but far from solving the riddle, the unveiling has only added fuel to the fiery debate, and the argument promises to grow hotter on all fronts.
According to all advisements and pronouncements, the late Mr. Wrights unconventional architecture is a museum of the artsspecifically, of the more advanced painting and sculpture of the twentieth century.
A museum, says the dictionary, is a building in which are preserved and exhibited objects of permanent interest in the arts or sciences.
A museum, said Wright, a man who made his own definitions, is an organic building where all is one great space on a single continuous floor. The Guggenheim, he explained, was to be an unusual container for an unusual collection, and by organic he meant that it would grow simply and logically out of the nature of its materials, like a tree, or, in this case, like a sort of snail, with a circular ramp spiraling upward around an open court, crowned by a dramatic skylight.
© 1959 by The New York Times. Reprinted by