On the anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York opening to the public for the very first time (Oct. 21, 1959), LIFE pays tribute to the master architect who designed the museum: Frank Lloyd Wright.
LIFE magazine paid tribute to Wright and to his eye-popping 5th Avenue museum this way, in its Nov. 2, 1959, issue:
Last week, six months after he died, the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright came triumphantly to life again in New York City. The revolutionary art museum he designed for Solomon R. Guggenheim was finally opened to the public. While it was under construction, the museum was the constant butt of jokes. Its cylindrical exterior was likened to everything from a washing machine to a marshmallow.
The inside of the new Guggenheim Museum proved to be far more sensational than the outside. To the visitors who streamed through, it seemed like the inside of a giant snail shell … The museum was greeted with a barrage of praise and protest. Architects hailed the “fantastic structure,” museum directors complained of the slanting floors and walls. An art critic called it “America’s most beautiful building,” a newspaper labeled it a ‘joyous monstrosity.” Everyone agreed on one thing — the building was definitely dizzying. This physical reaction would have pleased Wright who predicted, “When it is finished and you go into it, you will feel the building. You will feel it as a curving wave that never breaks.”See more photos here on LIFE.com
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