Last evening a crowd of one hundred or so gathered on museum mile in front of the Guggenheim Museum to mark the completion of its three-year renovation project with a champagne reception and a ceremony officiated by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Arriving fashionably late, Bloomberg addressed the crowd with his typical charisma, candidly remarking that the new restoration is “one of the best facelifts on 5th Avenue.” Bloomberg also stated that despite the tough financial times we have recently come upon, the City will continue investing in art and cultural institutions, like the Guggenheim. At the conclusion of Bloomberg’s speech, the official ribbon cutting ceremony revealed a large sign draped over the front exterior of the building that read, “Good As New.” Marc Steglitz, the Guggenheim Museum’s Interim Director-Elect, later commented that the building is actually “better than new,” but said that he was told that he could not say that in fear of the lurking preservationists in the crowd!
The celebration also included the inauguration of a site-specific work of art created by artist Jenny Holzer to illuminate the building’s newly restored facade and in honor of the restoration’s major benefactor Peter B. Lewis. Jenny Holzer’s site-specific light project, entitled, For the Guggenheim, cast large-scale texts comprised of her own writings as well as numerous poems directly onto the exterior of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, noticeably transforming the building and its surroundings. For the Guggenheim will be illuminated every Friday evening, beginning September 26 through December 31, 2008, from dusk to 11 p.m., with a special additional showing on New Year’s Eve. On an aside, the Guggenheim is offering a day of free admission on October 30, to thank New Yorkers for their patience during the last three years of restoration.