Originally called "The Museum of Non-Objective Painting", the Guggenheim was founded to showcase avant-garde art by high modernists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. It moved to its present location, at the corners of 89th Street and Fifth Avenue (overlooking Central Park), in 1959, when Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the site was completed.
Ironically, perhaps, the distinctive building became the best-known work of art in the museum. From the street, the building looks approximately like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, slightly wider at the top than the bottom. Internally, the viewing gallery forms a gentle spiral from the ground level up to the top of the building. Paintings are displayed along the walls of the spiral and also in viewing rooms found at stages along the way.
In 1992, the building was supplemented by an adjoining rectangular tower, taller than the original spiral. This augmentation of Wright's original design---widely regarded as a classic of American architecture---was controversial. The building's white color, and the relative proportions of the boxy, rectangular tower and the squat, cylindrical rotunda, led some observers to remark that the new ensemble resembled a toilet bowl.