This week marks the 61st anniversary of the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1959. You know we all have to go there to be part of that historic event. We need to take a list of things ‘not to do’ to prevent any accidental tear in the time continuum. So hop aboard the 1956 Oldsmobile, and let’s go.
Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Opening of the Guggenheim Museum in 1959.
10 If you go with us, do not make jokes about the appearance of the building. If you do, at best, everyone will be too busy to hear from you. At worst, you’ll make a joke overheard by James Johnson Sweeney, the museum’s director. (Mr. Sweeney takes great exception to your joke, Meinrad. He now wants to give you the whole history of the building and its architect Frank Loyd Wright. This is going to be a long day.)
9 If you go with us, do not ignore Tiny’s directions, the WWF champ who has been appointed a temporary guard for the Chagall exhibit. If you do, at best, Tiny will be busy with other guests. At worst, Tiny will assume you do not recognize his authority. (After all, Meir, he told you to stand behind the white tape, and clearly, your foot is two inches over. Tiny has missed the last month of his court-ordered anger management sessions. I know that hold hurts, but I don’t think your head will pop like a melon. I must say your face is sure red.)
8 If you go with us, do not complain about the layout of the museum. If you do, at best, everyone is too busy looking at the art. At worse, Sweeny will be standing behind you. ( If it helps, Melenthius, before the museum opened, 21 artists signed a letter complaining about how the walls and niches were designed and protested displaying their work there. Of course, Sweeney ignored them just like he is ignoring you. Well, except for the big burly guard helping you to the exit.)
7 If you go with us, don’t complain about the 50¢ entrance fee. If you do, at best, the box office personnel will be busy. At worst, you’ll be told to come back on Saturday when the museum entrance is free. (The 50¢ seems like a bargain, Melbourne, even if 50¢ in 1959 would be a little over $4.50 today. It may surprise you to know the fee today is $25.00 for admission for an adult. Saturday is still free from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M.)
6 If you go with us, do not try to push to the head of the line. If you do, at best, you’ll get lost. At worst, since several folks have been in line for a while, you’ll meet some short tempers. (On opening day, Melbyrne 3000 people showed up. You better believe some of them will not take kindly to your attempt to jump ahead of them.)
5 If you go with us and don’t like the building, do not facetiously ask James Johnson Sweeney if Frank Loyd Wright did any architectural drawings. If you do, at best, he will be busy dealing with the crowd. At worst, he will advise you that indeed Frank Loyd Wright did over 700 drawings. (I think Sweeney has about had it with you, Meldrick. I see him with two huge guys motioning toward you and drawing his thumb across his throat. Not a sign we like to see.)
4 If you go with us, do not ask for directions to the restaurant. If you do, at best, the person you ask will probably be confused. At worst, you will tip off the fact that you are not from this time zone. (You almost blew it, Melville. The restaurant in the Guggenheim did not open until 1975. No harm is done. The person directed you to the restaurant down the street.)
3 If you go with us, do not take bets about the distance of the walk from the ground floor to the top of the display space. If you do, at best, people will think you are joking. At worst, someone will take the bet. (The person taking the bet, Melvyn, is the guy who cleans the gallery. He correctly identified the distance as 1,416 feet. Hope you don’t intend to write a check to cover your debt.)
2 If you go with us, do not touch any of the paintings. If you do, at best, no one will see you. At worst, you will be seen by the biggest guard. (Everyone knows you don’t touch the paintings, Menelaus. I know it is irresistible sometimes, but after all, unless you want to pay $24 million or so, no touch.)
1 If you go with us, Do not ask to meet the benefactor Solomon R. Guggenheim. If you do, at best, you’ll get a blank stare. At worst, you’ll ask a Guggenheim family member. (You have to be the biggest clod; Mercer. Solomon passed away ten years before the Museum opened. Although it was his dream, he didn’t live to see it come to reality. Go sit in the corner.)