1990s and 2000s
1990 The Wright building is closed to the public so that the restoration and expansion can begin. Over the next two years, masterpieces from the collection are exhibited in a triumphant international tour to Venice, Madrid, Tokyo, Australia, and Montreal.
Through purchase and gift, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acquires the Panza di Biumo Collection of Minimalist and Conceptual Art. This acquisition dramatically enlarges the foundation’s permanent collection, giving it great depth in works by American postwar masters Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman, and Richard Serra, among others.
Agreements are signed between the Basque Administration and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to create a Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. The Basque Administration will fully fund the $100 million construction and will make annual contributions to the operating budget. The foundation will provide curatorial and administrative expertise as well as the core art collection and programming. Frank Gehry is chosen as the architect of the future museum.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation gives the Guggenheim 200 vintage photographs by Mapplethorpe, as well as a grant to launch a photography program. Contemporary photography quickly becomes a major area of collecting for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and within a decade it is able to mount major exhibitions based on its holdings.
After a three-year restoration of its interior, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum reopens to great acclaim. An eight-story tower, designed by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects, opens simultaneously.
The Guggenheim Museum SoHo opens. During its ten years in operation, the museum, designed by Arata Isozaki, will mount many small but important exhibitions focusing on artists such as Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, and Antoni Tàpies, as well as on art created in new media.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opens and is instantly hailed as an architectural masterpiece. Gehry's titanium and steel structure becomes the first work of museum architecture to rival the Wright building in its achievement and influence. Guided by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Bilbao museum forms an important collection of postwar American and European painting and sculpture that complements the foundation's holdings in New York and Venice. The exhibition program includes exhibitions that originate at the New York Guggenheim, as well as at other internationally prominent museums. In only a few years, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is widely credited with reviving the reputation and fortunes of the Basque region.
The Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, opens. The site in Germany establishes a special connection to the historical roots of the Guggenheim Foundation, inasmuch as the Guggenheim family originally came from Germany and Hilla Rebay, the first director of the Guggenheim Museum, emigrated to New York from what was at that time Prussia. This small museum, designed by Richard Gluckman, is a unique partnership between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank. Along with a robust exhibition schedule, one of the important programs at the Deutsche Guggenheim is the commissioning of new works. The exhibition space hosts three to four important exhibitions each year, many of which showcase a work specially commissioned by an artist. The exhibition program and the day-to-day management of the museum is the joint responsibility of the two partners. Over the next eight years, the museum features exhibitions of several distinguished international artists including William Kentridge, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Rachel Whiteread, Bill Viola, and Lawrence Weiner.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation signs an alliance agreement with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, which becomes a trilateral alliance in early 2001 when these institutions are joined by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The objectives of the alliance are to expand international cultural relations; to make each museum's collections accessible to broader audiences; to pursue collection sharing strategies that complement each institution's holdings; to implement joint exhibition, publishing, educational, and retail initiatives; and to facilitate each institution's long-term goals.
Philip Rylands is promoted from deputy director to director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum jointly open the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. This small museum, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is devoted to masterworks from the permanent collections of the allied museums. Simultaneously, a large Frank Gehry-designed Kunsthalle called the Guggenheim Las Vegas opens at the Venetian in order to provide a venue for the foundation’s popular exhibition The Art of the Motorcycle. The exhibition runs for an unprecedented sixteen months, at which time the Guggenheim Las Vegas closes.
Richard Serra's monumental site-specific installation The Matter of Time (2005) opens at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The largest sculpture commission in history, it is hailed by critics as a singular achievement.
Restoration of the exterior of the Frank Lloyd Wright building begins. Work will be finished in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the museum's opening.
Lisa Dennison is promoted to director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Prior to her appointment, Dennison had been deputy director and chief curator at the Guggenheim since 1996 and a member of the Curatorial department since 1978, during which time she organized thirty-five major exhibitions and helped to strengthen the permanent collection.
Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to establish a world-class museum devoted to modern and contemporary art. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, to be designed by Gehry, will be built in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island. The museum will form its own major collection of contemporary art and will also exhibit masterworks from the Guggenheim Foundation’s global collections.
Officials representing the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation provide details of the operating framework for the new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The operating agreement has been established for fifteen years—following five years for design development and construction.
Thomas Krens steps down as director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to assume a leadership role in developing the new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In his twenty years heading the foundation, Krens oversaw an active, transformative period for the foundation. His role spanned every facet of the institution, as he served as chief executive, curator, visionary, fundraiser, and entrepreneur. Marc Steglitz, chief operating officer of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, is appointed interim director of the foundation.
After over three years of significant restoration work, thanks to Peter B. Lewis, former chairman of the Board of Trustees; the City of New York; the State of New York; and other donors, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum shed its scaffolding to reveal a restored facade and interior improvements. In celebration of the restoration, the foundation commissioned artist Jenny Holzer to create a site-specific light projection for the facade of the Guggenheim entitled For the Guggenheim.
Richard Armstrong is appointed director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. Prior to his appointment, Armstrong was director of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where he had also served as chief curator and curator of contemporary art.