Do you remember how you felt the first time you walked into the Guggenheim, looked up at the oculus, and contemplated ascending the six spiraling ramps? Perhaps like some other visitors, you might have been thinking, “Does the museum sell Dramamine?”
That question and other humorous queries and observations are revealed in a memo of visitor’s remarks and sightings reported by the sales desk and switchboard operators circa 1959 (enlarge the image above to see for yourself). According to the memo, the most frequently photographed artwork at the museum was Aristide Maillol’s Pomona with Lowered Arms, usually with a middle aged man posing next to it. Sales desk attendants also reported that “Kandinsky” was one of the most frequently mispronounced artist names, often pronounced “Comiskey.” In all earnestness, the memo writer suggests that the mispronunciation might be associated with “Comiskey Field,” home of the Chicago White Sox and the site of three of the six 1959 World Series games, White Sox vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The memo doesn’t just focus on the visitors though. When a visitor asks a museum sales clerk if the museum has any brushes, the sales clerk responds, “No, but I’ll find out if he is being shown at another gallery.”