This post should/could also be titled ‘My Mad Dash Past Art’, but all things considered, I hope you find this helpful.
If you find yourself in New York and have never seen the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum, this is something you need to read. Manhattan is a crazy city. There are hundreds of things to do and sometimes you are only afforded a few days, or even a few hours in which to do them. Between trying out new restaurants, business meetings, seeing friends, and public transportation, it may mean being picky about your culture. For first-timers and natives of NYC alike, the Guggenheim is a must.
The good news is that you can do the whole museum in 37 minutes or less if you need to and still get a great experience. In order to do this, try and plan your schedule so that you have this block of time on Saturday night between 5:45 and 7:45pm. This time period allows you to pay what you wish, instead of the pricey $25 (I am the biggest advocate for funding for the arts, but you don’t need to spend that if you are going to dash through the museum). For pay what you wish, I suggest $10 for this block of time.
Do not be alarmed by the massive line of people outside trying to take advantage of pay what you wish. Build in about 15 minutes for wait time outside of the 37+ inside. The line moves quickly and it is really encouraging to see all ages come out to enjoy art at a cheaper price. Once you get inside, have your donation ready as well as your camera. You are only allowed pictures on the first floor. Take five minutes to snap a few selfies with your friends and enjoy the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Now you have 32 minutes. That’s okay. Head up the circular sloping ramp to the Thannhauser Collection. You have a choice here: if you love Impressionist/Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde art, plan to stay the next 20 minutes here. If you don’t, please breeze through for 5 minutes to see at least the Van Gogh’s and then head to the next few floors to see contemporary art, such as the current exhibition by Paul Chan called Nonprojections for New Lovers, which is the winner of the 2014 Hugo Boss prize (honors contemporary artists who have made a visionary contribution to their field). Vice versa, if you stayed in the Thannhauser galleries, breeze through some of the contemporary ones for five minutes to get a feel for the space.
7 minutes. You can do this! For the rest of your time at the Guggenheim, walk up the ramp to the top of the building as you take in the On Kawara ‘Silence’ exhibition, which disappears in a few days! In my opinion, this exhibit is cool but not something you need to pour over. The main events are the huge black canvases printed with white dates. The random rows of washed out braille and meaningless postcards can be skipped, trust me. The date driven art is at the heart of the exhibition and should be pondered for a few moments or longer if you can spare the time.
Now, head down the ramp and out the door to your dinner plans or anything else you have planned for the night. Sometimes marathoning museums is productive to the brain, especially when the current roster at the Guggenheim is very minimalistic. Save your plans for art fatigue at the Met, where they are much more warranted.
You’ve just done the Guggenheim in under an hour total and believe me, the experience will stick with you. If you have more time to spend, please do! Try to go early in the day to avoid crowds and take your time! And remember, if you are in a rush like I was, tailor your experience to your interests and always check out the exhibitions beforehand to know what is in store. Most of the ones I mentioned will be gone by mid-May, so hurry if you are interested!