|Guggenheim Plus and Guggenheim Zero (Proposal), 2006|
December 20, 2006
Dear Mr. Krens:
As I have conveyed to you in previous letters, I am a long-time admirer of the Guggenheim Museum and hold its history and collection very dear. You have guided this institution through challenging times, and I have frequently been impressed with your ability to shrug off criticism and stay the course. As a matter of fact, I am pleased to tell you that HoMu's board of trustees recently decided to name you "Honorary Trustee of the Homeless Museum," thereby acknowledging the significant changes you introduced at the intersection of culture and commerce.
You may recall my first attempt to foster a partnership between our institutions. In 2003, I sent you an inquiry asking for permission to let the Homeless Museum, which had just been inaugurated in a temporary space in Chelsea, establish its headquarters on the rooftop of the Frank Lloyd Wright building. Since an authorization to go through with this plan could not be secured, the Homeless Museum was moved into my two-bedroom rental apartment in Brooklyn Heights in March 2005 (open days have been held every month).
In the spring of 2004, just before the Guggenheim Foundation initiated the renovation of the crumbling fašade of its landmark building, I contacted you for the second time with a proposal that would have turned the museum's decrepitude into an asset. My idea was to fill the cracks in the building's fašade with my own brand of orange paint. This would have sent a strong signal to the public that something truly new and unique was going on inside the museum, literally bursting its seams with creativity. It would also have cost you a fraction of the $27 million renovation you opted for instead.
Today, I am writing to you with a new idea inspired by the multiple fundraising events I have attended at the Guggenheim Museum in the past years. Seeing that the original Frank Lloyd Wright building has become so popular for corporate parties, product placement and other PR schemes that trivialize and effectively desecrate the art, I propose to remove all the art from its galleries so that the building can devote itself exclusively to these lucrative endeavors. The art collection would be housed in a newly built Guggenheim replica created through excavation directly underneath the original building, spiraling downwards into the ground. This subterranean solution would circumvent the main obstacles New York City museums must normally overcome if they want to expand: obscene real-estate prices and the astronomical fees charged by star architects. The old Guggenheim, renamed Guggenheim Plus, would be reserved for fundraising parties, while the new Guggenheim, named Guggenheim Zero, would become a respectful home for the arts, the very "temple of spirit" founding director Hilla Rebay always intended the museum to be.
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