Frank Lloyd Wright saw the Guggenheim Museum as his pioneering vision and made it happen. In 1943, he received a commission to design the museum in New York City. Little did he know his architectural masterpiece would be the catalyst for change. Wright’s Guggenheim Museum not only changed the 20th-century architectural landscape which changed the way visitors experience art and museums as a whole.
When looking at the Guggenheim Museum, you realize you’re in for an experience like none other. For example, the architecture, inspired by Italian Renaissance and Contemporary reminiscences, is breathtaking. Mimicking spiraling white clouds, it’s both modern and historic at once. When visitors arrive near the sinuous form, their eyes immediately become enchanted. Simply saying “wow” beneath your breath isn’t enough. The Guggenheim isn’t just a museum. It’s an incredible testament to the architectural world.
Dayna Safferstein, doitwell’s UX designer, immersed herself in this very world. She spent several hours within the Guggenheim visiting two exhibits – the “Implicit Mapplethorpe Now” and the “Artistic License” show. It was in these exhibits, that the environment of the Guggenheim came to life. It was here where she found herself surrounded by a space with limitless potential. Dayna’s visit to the Guggenheim was one we, at doitwell, were excited to share. The museum offers a unique perspective on the in-person experience. It provides new ideas on how guests interact with space, environment, and more. To learn more about this, we had Selenia Morgillo, Our Attractions Expert, capture every moment Dayna experienced.
Selenia: At what time and day of the week did you visit the museum and was it your first time there? Tell us more about your experience!
Dayna: “This was my first time at the Guggenheim. I went there on a Saturday evening during the ‘Pay-What-You-Wish-Hours,’ which are every Saturday from 5 pm to 8 pm. $20 was enough for my two friends and me; and, judging by the line, I thought the museum would be packed. To our delight, the museum staff did an excellent job of pacing the visitors. The crowd wasn’t oppressive at all. The trickling of patrons flowed naturally from one piece to the next.”
Selenia: How would you describe your experience at the Guggenheim Museum through a UX Designer’s viewpoint?
Dayna: “I was very aware of the Guggenheim Museum’s manipulation of time, especially when it came to the lines outside of the museum. Think of it this way, when people wait in lines that don’t move forward, they get antsy and impatient. It’s a simple fact. But, when people wait in lines that do move forward, they feel as if their time spent waiting was productive. And, for us? We must’ve waited in line for 30 to 40 minutes, but we never stopped moving. The crowd seemed upbeat and excited the entire time.
I also paid attention to the experience and relationship of architecture to sound. And actually, the inside of Guggenheim feels a lot like New York. The acoustics only emphasized the urban feel of it all. The open layout causes all sounds to echo. Yet the sounds don’t impede the user’s ability to have a private conversation with their neighborhood. The noise reads as bustle, as background noise, but doesn’t detract from the intimacy of the space.
Looking out into the center of the Guggenheim feels like being in NYC, looking out of your apartment window. You can see the people bustling around on street level but you can also witness intimate moments across the spiral between people and pieces of art. Looking across the spiral feels like looking across the street into the apartments of strangers, which, in my opinion, is one of the great joys of urban life. It’s intimate and exposed at once, and again, a microcosm of the experience of living in NYC. At any point when winding your way around the spiral ramp, you can turn and look down. You can look down at the people on the street level below you, or search across other patrons in the spiral. It’s like witnessing a private moment between a person and a piece of artwork.”
Selenia: What did you like most about the experience, and what do you think could be improved?
Dayna: “The overall intimacy of the space and the manipulation of the time were what I most enjoyed.
The only let down of the experience was the Basquiat show. When we reached the top of the spiral to the pinnacle of the exhibits, the Basquiat show, we found the line for entry to be about 30 mins long when the museum was closing in 10.I didn’t see staff members deterring extra patrons from getting in line even though they’d probably be turned away when the museum closed.
I thought that would’ve been beneficial to the museum-goers, myself included if we were made aware of this before getting in line.
Selenia: Can you tell us a little bit more about what you do and what it’s like to collaborate with doitwell?
Dayna: “I’m a UX designer at doitwell. I work to improve the web experience of businesses in the tourism industry. I often interview users to find out their needs at various points in the process and analyze how we can meet and exceed those needs on the web. Although I’m located in America, so far my clients through doitwell are in Italy. I’ve mainly been focusing on the digital experience as of right now.
Exploring the Guggenheim was as fascinating as a UX Designer. It’s interesting seeing how UX Designers can influence the in-person experience of an attraction.
I look forward to working with doitwell on physical experiences, in addition to digital skills, in the future!”
Influencing that in-person experience is what the Guggenheim does best. It’s also what Dayna and Selenia know firsthand. Other than being an Attractions Expert, Selenia also works as an Art Historian with a particular passion for criticism and architecture. She understands this vital relationship between architecture, space, environment, and visitors. While she listened to Dayna’s experience, hearing about the Guggenheim felt like a leap into the past.
From the acoustics to space, the Guggenheim offered more than we expected. Selenia and Dayna, however, gave us a look into what that was like to experience it firsthand. With Dayna’s unique about time manipulation & “waiting in line” to the constant New York reverberation, the Guggenheim came alive in our eyes.
The Guggenheim is a space where people can inhabit a unique moment and relish in its experiences. It’s an environment that takes the in-person experience and does more than acknowledge it. It recognizes it as a pivotal moment. As a moment that should be curated from beginning to end.
Photo Credits Header: Selenia Morgillo