Comparative Criticism of Two Museums
Prof. Elizabeth Marlowe
Masterpieces of Western Art
November 8, 1999 Formal Comparison of Two Museums
The Frick Collection and The Guggenheim Museum are both museums on 5th Avenue in New York’s Upper East Side neighborhood, and they are both named for famous American tycoons from the early 20thcentury. But their similarities pretty much end there. The Frick Collection is the former residence of steel baron Henry Clay Frick who spent forty years assembling a large collection of artwork for his personal enjoyment. The Guggenheim Museum, on the other hand, was always intended as a public museum to display various art exhibits. These fundamental differences are most evident in the architectural design of the buildings …show more content…
This provides a relaxing and laid back setting for viewing the assorted artwork inside, but also leaves the visitor unsure of when he has finished seeing the entire collection. Since the collection doesn’t change much, seeing it all is not the point. Relaxing in the setting is.
This very different interior designs demonstrate the different priorities of the museums. The Frick Collection is primarily static; that is, it is almost entirely the varied artwork collected by Frick himself (although there is a small area in the basement for temporary exhibits). There is no unifying theme of the pieces inside and Japanese vases sit right beside European paintings. Frick’s goal was to collect pieces of art that he found pleasant to live with, regardless of their genre or origin. For this reason, he had a house built to hold his artwork rather than a museum, even though he always intended to eventually bequeath it as a public collection. The Guggenheim, on the other hand, transforms itself every several months as it rotates in a new exhibit. One month it may be almost entirely 20th century French paintings and the next month mostly Harley-Davidson motorcycles. That permanent collection of the Guggenheim is relatively small and not its main focus. The main focus of the Guggenheim is to show off a particular theme or genre of artwork assembled by professional museum