In Growing Up Guggenheim, Peter Lawson-Johnstona Guggenheim himself, and the board president who oversaw the transformation of the renowned museum from a local New York institution to a global art ventureshares a personal memoir that includes intimate portraits of the five people principally responsible for the entire Guggenheim art legacy.
In addition to first-hand biographical accounts of his grandfather Solomon Guggenheim (the museum's founder), his cousin Harry (Solomon's successor), and his famously rebellious cousin Peggy (whose magnificent Venice art collection he helped bring under New York Guggenheim management), the author tells the stories of long-time museum director Thomas Messer, who initiated the bold expansion of Frank Lloyd Wright's original museum building, and current director Thomas Krens, whose controversial tenure has featured such innovations as the Guggenheim’s wildly successful first international outpost in Bilbao, Spain, and exhibits devoted to fashion and motorcycles.
Lawson-Johnston also traces his own career, from his first job as sales manager of a remote feldspar mine, to his rapid ascent to the family summit, to his extension of the Guggenheim legacy in ways none of his predecessors could have envisioned. Despite his native and tangible humility, this evocative narrative makes clear Lawson-Johnston’s indispensable role as the loyal steward of one of America’s most famous family enterprises.
What They're Saying...
“Growing Up Guggenheim is a tour de force, an enthralling story told with a directness that combines candor, humor, insight, and reflection. Peter Lawson-Johnston has proven the brilliant shrewdness that led Harry Guggenheim to pick him, an unheralded cousin, to lead a new generation of an extraordinary family. The author’s talent has ennobled the entire Guggenheim clan and has enriched the worlds of art and business with an entrepreneurial energy and commitment that presents a magnificent challenge to those who succeed to his responsibilities.”
— William J. vanden Heuvel, former U.S. Ambassador, European Office of the United Nations
“This is a ‘can’t put it down’ book of extraordinary and surprising revelations by a Guggenheim about the private lives of that fabulous and opulent family.”
— Walter Cronkite
“A splendid book, original, readable, dramatic, and instructive. Here is a book autobiographical in form but focusing not so much on the author as on the institution associated with his family’s famous name: Guggenheim. We learn of the idea of the museum, of the ambitious and sometime irritating developers of it, of the triumph of the museum built by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York, and its eye-stopping successor in Bilbao. The development of museums, at the hectic and yet inspired pace at which they are being created, is a part of the American story: and here is a brilliant tale of a remarkable institution.”
— William F. Buckley Jr.
"Peter Lawson-Johnston gives us the ultimate insider's view on the movers and shakers behind a great American art legacy. Warm, candid, firsthand profiles, from museum founder Solomon Guggenheim to the irrepressible Peggy Guggenheim and her Venice-based art collection to Tom Krens, New York City's museum visionary and controversial current director. Essential and highly enjoyable reading for anyone interested in what has become a global art enterprise."
— Liz Smith
“[A]n unexpectedly poignant memoir of personal integrity and inner strength triumphing over the burdens that often are the true legacy of America’s great fortunes.”
— Guggenheim Magazine