Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark museum building is visited as much for its famous architecture as for its art exhibitions. Opened in 1959, shortly after Wright died, the Guggenheim (which is shaped somewhat like an upside-down cone) is an icon of Modernist architecture and designed specifically as the showcase of modern art. Outside, Wright's attention to detail is everywhere evident - in the circular pattern of the sidewalk outside the museum, the porthole like windows on its south side, and the smoothness of the hand-plastered concrete. Inside, under a 92-ft-high glass dome, quter-milong ramp spirals down past changing exhibitions.
The museum has especially strong holdings in Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and Robert Mapplethorpe. In 1992, the Guggenheim began what has become a global expansion, starting here with the opening of new galleries in its "little rotunda" (which displays the Thannhauser Collection comprised primarily of works by French Impressionists and neo-Impressionists including Toulouse-Lautrec and Cezanne) and its Tower galleries, a museum addition designed to accommodate the extraordinarily large art pieces that the Guggenheim owns but previously had no room to display. The museum also opened a SoHo branch, and now has branches around the world, including the renowned Frank 0. Gehry-designed Guggenheim Bilbao (1997) in Spain and Guggenheim Las Vegas (2001).