The permanent Guggenheim collections are comprised of the works belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the works acquired through the program of commissions at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, as well as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao's own collection. Together, the collections offer a comprehensive overview of the visual arts of the 20th century.
The collaborative programming of the various Guggenheim museums, including shared access to each of the art collections, constitutes a new model for museums, presenting the art to the public in a dynamic and ever-changing way. Works are not exhibited in fixed places within one museum; the Guggenheim network allows us to present more complete and diverse views of the art of our time. For the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the ability to access additional collections, from the earliest avant-garde to contemporary art, provides us with a unique opportunity to feature masterpieces that would be otherwise unavailable to a new museum.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Nueva York)
The permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation embodies the institution’s distinctive history, which has intersected with and catalyzed the development of 20th- and 21st-century art. The metamorphosis from private collection to public museum is an extraordinary transition. For the Guggenheim, this occurred in 1937, when Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861–1949) established a foundation empowered to operate a museum that would publicly exhibit and preserve his holdings of nonobjective art. In 1939 the Museum of Non-Objective Painting opened its rented quarters at 24 East 54th Street, showcasing the collection of American and European abstract and nonobjective artworks that Solomon R. Guggenheim had begun assembling a decade before. In the seventy years since, the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (renamed in its founder’s honor in 1952) has grown exponentially, expanding in both historical and stylistic range and depth.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Widely recognized as one of the most influential art patrons of the 20th century, Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979), Solomon R. Guggenheim’s niece, assembled an unrivaled collection of modern art, beginning in the late 1930s in prewar Paris and London and continuing through World War II in New York—where she provided critical support to the nascent American school of Abstract Expressionism through her museum-gallery Art of this Century—and, from 1947 until her death in 1979, in Venice. In 1969 Peggy decided to bequeath her entire collection, as well as the Grand Canal palazzo that houses it, to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, complementing her uncle’s collection and filling in critical gaps, particularly with her rich holdings of Surrealist works and paintings by Jackson Pollock.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
From its inception in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s acquisition program has focused on art from the mid-20th century to the present, complementing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s renowned holdings while establishing its own identity. Its collecting approach includes acquiring singular examples and signature works by leading postwar and contemporary artists; commissioning new, site-specific artworks that respond to the particular space in and around the Frank Gehry building; and representing work by modern and contemporary Basque and Spanish artists in order to preserve and bring global attention to their vital cultural heritage.