Today marks fifty years of the Gugenheim museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to house the collection formerly known as ‘The Museum of Non-Objective Painting’ and shown in rented rooms on 24th street.

After three years of renovations leading up to the anniversary, the building, a landmark since 2008, looks largely the same as when it was built–a feat which, when you read about it, turns out to come from an incredible amount of work, both highly technical and pure stick-with-it manual labor. Laser surveys, sampling, testing.

photo via nytimes

photo via nytimes

Photos of the museum from ’07, early in the process show a grey exterior, stripped of twelve layers of paint, cracked and mottled.

Later on, when it came time to repaint last year, all of the paint samples underwent analysis. Wright’s thoughts on the matter were consulted posthumously, including his suggestion that the museum be painted his favorite Cherokee Red. Proponents off-white came up against supporters of Wright’s original light yellow, until decided by a 7-2 vote from New York’s Landmarks Commission. A member noted: “This debate has been watched by the entire world.

Unfortunately no Cherokee Red. The commission decided on off-white.