Posted by Sara Zucker on October 9, 2009 12:54 PM
Anyone who has ever visited a tourist destination can recall a time when they took home something, legally or illegally, to remember their trip. For its 50th anniversary, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has released a limited edition line of “Restoration Rocks” jewelry, specially made from lightweight concrete and Gunite remnants of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building.
The collection, which consists of nine designs including earrings, pendants, bracelets, a ring, and cufflinks, was designed by California-based jewelry artist Cara Tilker, and will be distributed exclusively at the museum’s retail store and website, with prices starting at $80.
The materials used were set aside during the 2007 restoration process of the building’s walls:
A minimal amount of Gunite—a mixture of cement and sand aggregate, and the jewelry’s featured component—was removed from the building as was deemed necessary for its restoration, and saved. The material, which comes from the interior and exterior of the building, was removed in order to gain access to reinforce points of the exterior wall to preserve its structural integrity. Material was also removed from damaged sections of the exterior in order to replace it with more stable material.
It seems the Guggenheim is attempting to restore not only its physical architecture, but its brand as well, which seemed in decline after a series of lackluster exhibitions and mediocre collections under controversial former director Thomas Krens, accompanied by aggressive expansion plans that had to be scaled back. Even the iconic building itself was criticized; many artists dislike the way their work is displayed, as it is difficult to properly hang paintings in the shallow windowless exhibition niches surrounding the central spiral.
One question remains: is it as exciting to wear the place that holds art rather than to wear the art itself?