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Krakow to build Guggenheim Museum?

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Guggenheim is a name known worldwide for its art museums. Now a resident of Krakow would like to build a Guggenheim in his city. In 1937, American philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim founded the Museum of Non-Objective Art (a type of abstract art) in New York City. Four years later, he commissioned renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new exhibition hall for modern art. The design originally was viewed as so audacious that it was ridiculed by both the art world and the general public. In 1951, Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan was finally completed, and today it is one of the most famous such institutions in the world with its building being one of the most admired and recognizable.
 
The bold architectural tradition continues to this day with other Guggenheim museums in the world being designed by top-class architects. The Guggenheim Museum Foundation boasts a body of wealthy trustees that responds enthusiastically to the concepts of its director, Thomas Krens. His commercial success results from a business-wise approach. Krens is creating an international network of museums with sizable amounts of money being spent on promotion. His pioneering ideas have transformed the Guggenheim institution into something closer to a prosperous and rapidly expanding company.
 
Krens is not without his critics. They accuse him of "McDonaldizing" the art culture. Displays of BMW motorcycles and Armani suits have been condemned as serving solely commercial purposes. The showy architecture of the Guggenheim museums is said to overshadow the exhibitions.
 
Five Guggenheim museums have been built: in New York, Venice, Berlin, Las Vegas and Bilbao. In 2006 the foundation signed an agreement to build a museum in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The idea to build a Guggenheim museum in Krakow is the brainchild of Zbigniew Kwiatkowski, a Krakow resident and a fervent traveler. "I studied the foundation strategy and thought Krakow would be a perfect place for a Guggenheim museum," Kwiatkowski said. "It would add some modernity to the city's historical value." Kwiatkowski has prepared arguments and a plan of actions. First, he enlisted the help of attorney Tomasz Bobrowski, who now officially manages the project. They succeeded in gaining support of the city officials. The city's mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, was at first skeptical about the proposal but now has a positive attitude.
 
Krakow could benefit enormously from a museum. The economical advantages from such a major cultural investment have been called the "Bilbao Effect." The building of the Bilbao Guggenheim in Spain transformed a shabby industrial Basque city into a thriving world-famous landmark filled with luxury restaurants and designer shops. The Guggenheim concept has had some failures, however. Financial problems became insurmountable obstacles to building museums in Taiwan, Rio de Janeiro, and Guadalajara, Mexico. Kwiatkowski stresses that despite stiff competition for a museum (more than 100 candidates globally), Krakow has many assets. It is a culturally prestigious location and an attractive site, already one of the rapidly developing cities of Europe. As in Bilbao, Krakow authorities would be responsible for a building and its operation while the foundation would supply showpieces. With Poland being a new EU member, there is also a possibility that a large part of the construction costs could come from EU resources. However, the opportunity may be lost unless action is taken quickly, as the EU budget is being planned for coming years and the potential money will continue to dwindle. A partnership proposal for Guggenheim was signed by Mayor Majchrowski and sent out in June 2007. But it was addressed to the wrong organization. It was received by Edward Hirsch, chairman of the Simon Guggenheim Foundation that grants fellowships to advanced professionals in different fields. Hirsch did express his fondness towards Krakow, explained the mistake and promised to deliver the message to appropriate address.
 
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